Blueberries go beyond fiber and vitamin C | www.daytondailynews.com – Dayton Daily News

Increasing fruits and vegetables is an easy goal to accomplish in the summer because of the abundance of fresh from the farm produce. My favorite time of the summer is when my garden vegetables and fruits begin to ripen.

I am always most excited for the ripening of my blueberries, and they always seem to ripen at the start of July, just in time for National Blueberry Month.

At 80 calories per serving (1 cup) these delightful bites of juicy goodness are packed full of health promoting nutrients. Blueberries are an excellent source of fiber (5 grams in one-cup serving), a good source of vitamin C, naturally fat free and cholesterol free and provide a rich source of anthocyanins. While you are likely aware of the health benefits of fiber and vitamin C, you may not be aware of the nutrient powerhouse anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins belong to the flavonoid group of phytochemicals. When you see the word phytochemical think health-promoting foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil and the cocoa bean. Anthocyanins are found in the red-blue fruits and vegetables such as black currents, elderberries, strawberries, grapes, red cabbages and eggplants. This class of chemicals acts like a strong antioxidant providing protective effects from the damaging effects of aging, drugs, UV light, cigarette smoke, stress and pollution. Moreover, recent studies suggest anthocyanins specifically may play a protective effect in cardiovascular disease, control of obesity, and cancer. Additionally, there is research to suggest anthocyanins may provide beneficial effects on vision, memory and preventing age-related neural function decline.

Taking advantage of the health promoting properties of blueberries is as simple as sprinkling fresh berries on hot or cold cereal in the morning or adding a handful to yogurt. Freshly picked blueberries, slightly warmed by the summer sun, make a wonderful dessert topping to a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a hot summer evening.

Check out your local farmers market or grocer for fresh blueberries and enjoy this fruit fresh while they are in season. When the last of the blueberries have been picked for the season switch to buying frozen blueberries, which are more economical in the off-season.

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