A Handful of Health
Incorporating Antioxidant-rich Blueberries into Your Diet
Compact in size but packed with a powerful, sweet punch, blueberries are bursting with flavor and add vibrant, deep blues and purples to any lackluster meal. In addition to helping make your breakfast oatmeal, mid-day salad or evening treat naturally sweeter and more exciting, blueberries can also fuel your body with essential nutrients.
Blueberries are packed with vitamin C.
One serving of blueberries delivers almost 25 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C. The body needs vitamin C to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels, and vitamin
C helps maintain healthy gums and a healthy immune system. Vitamin C has also been linked to improvement in mood, as people who have vitamin C deficiency often feel fatigued or depressed. Blueberries also contain a small amount of vitamin K, which plays a key role in helping the blood clot and preventing excess bleeding.
Blueberries are an excellent source of manganese and other minerals.
Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, and plays an important role in bone development and in converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy. Blueberries also contain minerals like potassium, copper, iron and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells, and iron is required for red blood cell formation.
Blueberries are full of dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. However, a high- fiber diet also helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels, controls blood sugar levels and helps in maintain a healthy weight.
Blueberries are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Saturated fat is a harmful dietary fat that raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in the fats in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. Although the body needs sodium to function properly (sodium helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles), high-sodium intake can increase your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease.
Are you wondering how to better incorporate blueberries into your diet? Follow these quick and easy tips for nutrient-packed snacks and meals:
- Add blueberries to your yogurt, cereal and smoothies.
- Toss blueberries with your greens, or add them to your chicken salad.
- Add blueberries to your homemade trail mix.
- Cook your blueberries down into a sweet sauce and drizzle over chicken, pork or vegetables.
- Fresh and juicy blueberries make a sweet and guilt-free dessert – add them to your Greek or frozen yogurt.
Hurry – grab a handful of blueberries and energize your body with antioxidants!
Blueberry and Goat Cheese Salad
Blend the sweetness of summer with savory, fresh-crop fall walnuts this September and serve up a plate of blueberry and goat cheese salad – yum!
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- 3 to 4 ounces goat cheese or other soft cheese
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts*
- ¼ cup prepared Italian or balsamic dressing
- Arrange greens on four salad plates, dividing evenly
- Slice or shape goat cheese to form four rounds
- Arrange in center of each plate
- Sprinkle blueberries and pecans on greens
- Drizzle dressing over salad
Number of servings (yield): 4
* To crisp nuts and bring out their full flavor, toast them in a 300º F oven for about 5 minutes