Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are an all-star food and a colorful and delicious addition to anything from your morning bowl of cereal to your evening scoop of ice cream.

Blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are responsible for the blue/purple color of these berries. Anthocyanins are more than just pigments — they are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to inhibit free radicals from damaging cells in the body1. This ability suggests that anthocyanins may play a role in cancer prevention2.

Studies suggest that the antioxidant properties of anthocyanins may protect against cardiovascular diseases (including stroke) as well as neurodegenerative disorders of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease2. Anthocyanins in blueberries may also improve learning and memory.

Blueberry History

The blueberry belongs to the genus Vaccinium. Other berries in this genus include cranberries, lingonberries and huckleberries. The blueberry is one of the few fruits that are native to North America.

Native Americans gathered fresh blueberries for centuries, and revered them so much that parts of the plant were used for medicine. In 1620, Native Americans taught pilgrims in the Plymouth settlement how to gather blueberries, dry them, and store them for the winter.

cereal with milk and blueberries

Did you know?

There are more than 450 different types of blueberry plants! The plant grows wild around the world. The wild blueberry is a hardy, small bush that can survive in the wild as far north as Arctic North America.

The Southern Rabbiteye blueberry thrives in the southern regions of the U.S. The Northern Highbush variety grows wild in the forests of North America.

July is known as National Blueberry Month, because blueberry production reaches its peak during this month.

Where are Blueberries Grown?

North America produces nearly 90% of the world’s blueberry crop. The North American blueberry harvest runs from mid-April through early October. Michigan produces the largest blueberry crop in the United States, followed by Oregon, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Tips for Enjoying Blueberries

  • Sprinkle on top of pancakes or in pancake batter.
  • Mix blueberries in your favorite morning cereal.
  • Blend milk, blueberries and yogurt for a delicious smoothie.
  • Add dried blueberries to your trail mix.
  • Substitute dried blueberries for raisins in your favorite recipes.
  • Stir in blueberry juice into lemonade or iced tea.

Tip

Do not wash blueberries until just before eating or using in your recipes to prevent berries from becoming mushy.

Unwashed blueberries will stay fresh for up to two weeks in the refrigerator if kept dry.

Enjoy the health benefits of blueberries – find blueberry recipes.

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