Stop aging, live longer and keep your mind sharp with blueberries. If you ad one food to your diet this season, make it blueberries. Calorie for calorie, luscious blueberries recently emerged as the single most ferocious food in the supermarket at halting the forces that age you. Even the scientists who study blueberries are excited!
Every second of your life, your cells are bombarded by dangerous particles called free radicals. In a split second, they can alter your DNA in ways that cause cancer. Or they can change low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) so it sticks to artery walls. Or damage collagen and make skin wrinkle prone. Over time, changes such as these accelerate your aging.
To fight this process, you want to load your diet with antioxidants, which naturally zap free radicals in your body. Get the process going by loading up on (you probably guessed it) fruits and vegetables. Enter the blueberry: This amazing little fruit has emerged as nature's number one source of antioxidants among fresh fruits and vegetables.
In tests at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, blueberries beat out 39 other common fruits and vegetables - even such heavyweights as kale, strawberries, spinach and broccoli in antioxidant power.
Much of the power comes from the pigment that gives blueberries their rich, deep blue color: Anthocyanins.
To get the level of antioxidants found in just one-half cup of blueberries, you need to eat more - sometimes much more - of other fruits and vegetables:
One-half cup blueberries equals:
3 /4 cup strawberries
1-1/4 cup orange sections
2-1/4 cup broccoli florets
2-1/2 cup chopped spinach
2-2/3 cup corn
The head of the USDA Phytochemical Laboratory at Tufts and the scientist who discovered the secret power of blueberries, Ronald Prior, PhD, recommends adding one-half cup of blueberries to your diet every day!
This is a far cry from the current average intake in America of 2-1/2 cup a year! With a one-half cup serving of blueberries a day, you can just about double the amount of antioxidants most Americans get in one day.
If you want to slow down the free radical aging process, blueberries are the prime choice.
Another Bonus: Urinary Tract Relief
Just like their cousin the cranberry, blueberries contain compounds that can prevent urinary tract infections (UTI's), according to recent findings at the Rutgers Blueberry Cranberry Research Center in Chatsworth, NJ. Called condensed tannins, the compounds can keep the bacteria responsible for UTI's from attaching to the wall of your bladder.
Fresh blueberries are available year-round but are least expensive from May through September, when the supply comes from the US and Canada. Look for berries that are dark blue, with a frosty bloom. Store fresh blueberries in your refrigerator for up to two week and wash them just before you use them; otherwise they will get mushy.
Loose-pack frozen blueberries are available year-round, and you can use them in any recipe that calls for fresh blueberries. Since they are pre-washed, they can be used right from the package.
Wild blueberries, grown in Maine and Eastern Canada, are beginning to be available nationwide in frozen loose-packs. Wild blueberries are smaller (about 1,600 to the pound versus 500 for the larger, cultivated blueberry) and their flavor is more intense. They also hold up better in baking.
Baking tip: When baking with frozen blueberries, for best results lightly dust unthawed blueberries with flour before stirring into batter.