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July Is National Blueberry Month

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.

I often wonder who declares these reasons for celebration, but in any case, July is the peak of blueberry harvesting. These berries are one of the few fruits that are native to North America, where they grow from May through October. Get them fresh off the plant if you can. In this area, just outside of Washington, DC, there are numerous places to pick berries -- among them, Butlers Orchards and Homestead Farms -- and other fruits and vegetables from spring through fall.  

Blueberries are always on the lists of 'top ten super foods' because they are one of the highest in antioxidants and are high in fiber and Vitamin C, as well. Their blue color is due to anthocyanins, one of their antioxidants. They are also low in calories, at less than 100 per cup. They contain Vitamins C and K and copper. Studies have attributed many benefits to blueberries, including improved memory, decreased heart disease and better diabetes control, as well as protection against muscle damage and cancer.

However, since food studies are so difficult to control, and some studies involve consumption of several cups of blueberries daily, I prefer to look at blueberries as being a super-healthy food to eat as part of a mostly plant-based diet. Plus, it's fun to pick them. Sometimes you can find a completely ripe bunch; other times you can remove just a few ripe ones from a cluster of otherwise greenish tiny young blooms, knowing that someone else will get to enjoy the rest of them another time.

If you somehow end up with 12 pounds of berries, as we did, and you tire of eating them straight up, and have given plenty away, you can always prepare them in smoothies, breads, jams, pies, other desserts, salads, or as a topping on oatmeal, pancakes, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Trust me, we've tried most of these variations! Although their flavor increases in these preparations, their nutritional value can potentially decrease. If you have more than you can handle or give away, freeze them to enjoy at another time in the next six months. They can be frozen without damaging the antioxidant effect.

Try these recipes for blueberry banana bread with a gluten-free option, blueberry French toast, a blueberry ginger smoothie, or a baked banana and blueberry dessert.

 

REFERENCES:

Thompson, C. Blueberries: Nutritions Things Come in Small Packages. WebMD, 7/11/18

George Mateljan Foundation. The world's healthiest foods. www.whfoods.org.

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