Blueberries are primarily touted as an antioxidant, and they do in fact serve up a good-sized dose of antioxidants, as well as containing anthocyanins and phenolics that can also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants serve to protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals, combating aging and chronic illness. And the USH Blueberry Council reports that “Using a test called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers have shown that a serving of fresh blueberries provides more antioxidant activity than many other fresh fruits and vegetables.” And now, research is showing that blueberries can be added to the arsenal to fight obesity.
A recent study at Texas Woman’s University, presented at a recent American Society for nutrition conference, found that blueberries can combat obesity in rat cells. The research was based on the theory that polyphenols could stop fat cell development. Researcher Shiwani Moghe found that it did, and even shrunk fat cells. While this may not be directly translatable to humans, it is a promising start and will lead to further research into the polyphenol-fat link.
Meanwhile, it couldn’t hurt to add the little blue spheres into your daily diet. Made up of 84% water, one cup of blueberries has 84 calories, with 0 calories from fat. There is no cholesterol and no sodium, and 15% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C.
Blueberries can be bought fresh or frozen (as well as freeze dried and dehydrated), and can be used in any meal of the day. Some suggestions include:
- Hot or cold cereal: throw some fresh or frozen in during the boiling process for oatmeal, or top off your bowl of Cheerios or granola with a sprinkling.
- Yogurt: Add to yogurt, with or without granola. I like the combo of lemon and blueberry the best, although plain, vanilla, and any type of berry yogurt works as well.
- Trail Mix and Granola: Add dehydrated blueberries to your favorite trail mix or granola for a healthy snack on the go.
- Muffins: While packaged mixes are the most popular, it doesn’t really take very long to make homemade muffins (recipe below), and they are oh so much better.
- Pancakes: Krusteaz makes a tasty low-fat oat bran pancake mix, wheat and honey mix, and even a fat-free buttermilk pancake mix. Just add water and blueberries and starting flipping those rounds of batter.
- Coffeecake: Take any traditional recipe and throw in a cup of berries for good measure.
- Fruit salad: I’m a berry lover, so mixing 3 or 4 kinds of berries together is heaven. For dessert I top with a dollop of whipped cream. Blueberries also go well with cantaloupe. Add in a squeeze of lime and bit of chopped fresh mint, for a palate-pleasing mixture.
- Desserts: Blueberry pie, lemon-blueberry tarts, blueberry clafouti, peach and blueberry crisp. The list is endless.
- Dinner: Blueberries can also be used in sauces to serve with fish or meat. How about Salmon Steaks with Savory Blueberry Sauce? Or, for those of you who are a culinary whiz in the kitchen, you can attempt Tea-Smoked Duck Breast with Pears and Blueberry Jus, a spa dish from Ananda Spa in India.
If you are stumped and need something more creative to do with your blueberries, you can visit Just Berry Recipes, and find 1,263 recipes that use blueberries, and there is sure to be something to your liking.
These muffins are low in fat, but have a texture similar to traditionally made muffins. Prep time was less than 10 minutes, and the cook in 15.
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup nonfat sour cream
1 cup nonfat milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 250 degrees and prepare muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together. In small bowl, mix sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the flour along with sour cream and milk. Stir to moisten, then gently fold in the blueberries. Scoop into muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes until done. Makes 12+
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