If you have heard my presentation about Superfoods for Health, you will recall that I love blueberries for many reasons. Nutrition aside, I’m intrigued with the small but mighty berries that are one of a few natural blue foods grown in the world.

With the games in London over the next week, doesn’t this Union Jack Cake look delicious and fun to have at your Olympic theme party over the long weekend. The recipe can be found at STYLENEST.  Just remember to exercise (like an Olympian, if you have the fever) to balance out this delicious indulgent.

As a dietitian, I’m asked the question “go big or go wild?” Hmmm, well, when it comes to blueberries, I eat a variety of fresh and frozen highbush and wild blueberries (both grown in Canada) for breakfast, as snacks and as an ingredient in different recipes throughout the year.

 

Quick Blueberry Facts

  • The blueberry is one of a small number of fruits native to North America.
  • The original North Americans smoked wild blueberries to preserve them for the winter.
  • Vaccinium is the family of all blueberries and includes more than 450 plants. This plant grows wild around the world and there are many names given to different blueberries. The three main varieties include:
    • V. corymbosum are the Northern Highbush. They grow in the forests, wild in North America. They were used to cultivate the modern highbush or cultivated blueberry industry.
    • V. ashei are the Southern Rabbiteye. You may be surprised to learn that blueberries thrive in the Southern USA. Rabbiteye is the name because the calyx on the berry resembles the eye of the rabbit.
    • V. angustifolium are the Lowbush or also called Wild Blueberries. These dwarf bushes are very cold hardy, surviving in the wild as far north as Arctic North America.
  • British Columbia is the number one highbush blueberry growing region in the world.
  • When picking blueberries select plump, full blueberries with a light gray-blue color. A berry with any hint of red isn’t fully ripened.
  • 1 pint of fresh blueberries weighs about 3/4 of a pound.
  • Wild Blueberries are grown in regions of the eastern USA and throughout Canada. Both represent the major processors and sources of frozen and processed wild blueberries worldwide.
  • Throughout Canada and the USA, there are Wild Blueberry and Highbush Blueberry Festivals annually.Blueberries-raspberries-and-cherries

The Amazing Nutritional Powerhouse

Blueberries…

  • have only 80 calories per 250 ml (one cup) serving.
  • in a 125ml (1/2 cup) portion gives you one serving of fruits as recommended by the Canada’s Food Guide.
  • are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Research suggests blueberries can help slow the aging process and loss of brain function.
  • are high in vitamin C, which promotes a healthy immune system.
  • are high in magnesium, which plays an important role in bone health.
  • are a good source of dietary fibre, which contributes to heart health, helping to keep cholesterol in check.

Mix it up

Add blueberries to your cereal in the morning. Mix them with almonds in yogurt for an afternoon snack. Make a salmon, blueberry and spinach salad for supper. Or how about something more festive and timely – try these blueberry scones and tea while watching your favourite Olympic sport!  Check out the recipe from marthastewart.com

 Stay true blue and enjoy!