Blueberries: A Low Calorie Favorite?>

Blueberries: A Low Calorie Favorite

by Berkeley Wellness

Blueberries originated in North America. Native Americans considered blueberries sacred, sent by the Great Spirit during a great famine to relieve the hunger of their children. They gathered wild blueberries and ate them year round, either fresh or preserved. The juice was used to make cough syrup and as a dye for cloth and baskets. The leaves were used to make an herbal tea meant to fortify the blood.

The domestication of the blueberry started in 1908 when a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture began selective breeding to create the “highbush” blueberry, which produces more and bigger berries than the wild plant.

Though naturally quite sweet, blueberries are so low in calories that even people trying to lose weight can enjoy them. In fact, their high-fiber content makes them very satisfying.

Blueberries: Nutrition

Blueberries contain moderate levels of vitamin C and the essential dietary mineral manganese. They are rich in phytochemicals such as anthocyanins and other polyphenols. Researchers theorize that these phytochemicals may be beneficial to health, though as yet nothing is proven.

Blueberries contain a good amount of the soluble fiber pectin, which may help lower cholesterol levels. Pectin also benefits the digestive system, adding bulk to stools without stimulating bowel movements. Keep in mind, however, that large amounts of the fresh fruit may have a laxative effect in some people.

Types of Blueberries

Here's a look at the main types of farmed, wild, and "wild-type" blueberries, and where you're likely to find each.

Other blueberry products

  • Blueberry juice: Wild and domestic blueberry juice (sweetened with fruit juices such as grape and apple) is available in some stores.
  • Blueberry-juice concentrate: This unsweetened concentrate is available in health-food stores.
  • Dried blueberries: Dried blueberries are available in some stores, and can be used as you would raisins. Like all dried fruit, they provide a concentration of the whole fruit’s nutrients—in this case, they are a particularly rich source of anthocyanins.

How to Choose the Best Blueberries

Learn how to select, store, and freeze blueberries for optimal freshness.

How to use blueberries

Before eating or cooking, rinse fresh blueberries and pat dry. Remove any stems, and discard or cook the reddish ones. Unripe blueberries aren’t good raw, but can be cooked.

Let frozen berries thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before adding them to uncooked dishes. When using frozen berries in cooked dishes, lengthen the cooking time by a few minutes.

When adding fresh berries to batter, dust them first with flour. The coating keeps them from dropping to the bottom of the baking pan.

See also our recipe for Fresh Blueberry Jam.

7 Ways to Serve Blueberries

Blueberries are a great addition to most baked desserts, but you can also use them in innovative, delicious dishes. Here are seven serving suggestions for blueberries.

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