National Blueberry Month
Oh, July is National Blueberry Month and I'm telling you, I love some blueberries! There's nothing like that little burst of sweet flavor on a hot summer day! Blueberries are native to North America and are grown in 38 of the 50 states. Most of our blueberry supply comes from California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. Peak blueberry season is in July, but the season actually runs from April through late September in the United States.
Besides being full of flavor, blueberries are little powerhouses of nutrition! One cup of blueberries contains about 80 calories, 3.6 grams of fiber, and they are low in fat and sodium. In addition, blueberries contain vitamin C (important for the immune system, tissue growth, and wound healing) and manganese (important for cholesterol, carbohydrate, and protein processing). Most importantly though, blueberries contain phytonutrients such as polyphenols, flavonoids (anthocyanins – where blueberries get their color), phenolic acids, pyruvic acid and chlorogenic acid, which are known to help prevent a variety of diseases.
In a 2018 review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the authors reported on the many benefits of blueberries including the prevention of cancer, obesity, heart disease, degenerative diseases, diabetes, and inflammation (which is a root cause of all chronic disease). Blueberries also protect our eyes, improve cognitive function and brain health, boost immunity, and protect our lungs and liver. The authors concluded that indeed blueberries are one of the best functional foods we can consume to positively impact health!
Choosing blueberries can be tough, especially if they aren’t in season. During blueberry season, it’s pretty easy to find flavorful, ripe options. Look for organic, plump berries that are blue with a slight silver tint. If the container of blueberries has any berries with a red color, they are under-ripe.
When blueberry season is over, looking for frozen, organic blueberries is a great option to cut down on cost and to make sure the flavor and quality are maintained. You can also buy blueberries in-season and freeze them for use later in the year. Simply wash your ripe blueberries, lay them in a single layer on a flat sheet pan to dry, and then freeze in a freezer-safe bag.
Increasing your intake of blueberries (and all their awesome nutrition) is simple. Check out the below suggestions and visit the blueberry website below for some berry awesome recipes:
1. Add blueberries to green smoothies. One perfect way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake daily is with green smoothies. Toss a ½ cup of frozen blueberries into your favorite smoothie for a refreshing dessert or healthy breakfast.
2. Top salads with fresh blueberries. Adding fruit to your salad is a refreshing way to add some color and flavor to your greens! Click here to check out my recipe for blueberry chicken salad
3. Top healthy yogurt with fresh blueberries to add some subtle sweetness.
4. Make a healthy fruit pizza and top with fresh blueberries.
5. Eat blueberries fresh or frozen by the cup!
6. Instead of sugar, add fresh blueberries to cold or cooked cereal for a pop of color and sweetness!
It may seem too easy, but doing these simple things every day, like adding blueberries to your daily routine, can have a huge impact on your health and quality of life.
Blueberry Coffee Smoothie
5 ounces brewed decaf coffee (or regular if you can handle it!)
5 ounces unsweetened nut milk
1 scoop vanilla vegan protein powder
1 handful spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1/4 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Blend all but frozen ingredients on high until smooth. Add the frozen fruit and blend again until smooth.
· Ma L, Sun Z, Zeng Y, Luo M, Yang J. Molecular Mechanism and Health Role of Functional Ingredients in Blueberry for Chronic Disease in Human Beings. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(9):2785. Published 2018 Sep 16. doi:10.3390/ijms19092785