Nearly Fat-free, Nutritious and Delicious: Blueberries
If you are looking for a food that packs a huge nutritional punch and is nearly fat-free, consider enjoying a handful of blueberries or a blueberry smoothie.
These berries are ripe for picking or purchasing this time of year, plump and juicy, ready to tickle your taste buds.
You know blueberries are special since they are one of the only naturally blue foods that grow anywhere. Even the poet Robert Frost could not resist writing about them in his poem called, you guessed it, "Blueberries":
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves.
Interesting Facts About Blueberries
- The world’s biggest producer of blueberries is the United States. In 2012, the state of Maine produced the most wild blueberries while Michigan was first in cultivated blueberry production. They are grown commercially in 38 states.
- Blueberries grow best in acidic soil that has a pH of four to five.
- A whole cup of blueberries is only 80 calories.
- Blueberries are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and manganese.
- Native Americans have called this blue fruit “star berries.” If you look at a blueberry blossom you will understand why. They enjoyed eating fresh blueberries and dried them in the sun to use in cooking throughout the year. Blueberries were used to make dye for coloring basket materials and textiles, and blueberry powder was rubbed into meat as a preservative. The roots and leaves of blueberries were used medicinally.
- Early settlers in North America boiled blueberries in milk to make gray paint. Later, the Shakers painted their homes with a concoction of blueberry skins, sage blossoms, indigo and milk.
- Blueberries were packaged and sent to Union troops during the Civil War.
- July is the peak time of year for harvesting blueberries – perhaps why July is National Blueberry Month.
- Although blueberries are obviously big in the U.S., it is also the official berry of Nova Scotia, Canada.
- The “bloom” of a blueberry is the pale, powdery protective coating on its skin.
- Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, more than many other fruits and veggies. Antioxidants help protect us from illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Blueberries also contain anthocyanin, which supports good eyesight.
- Taking blueberry extract improved the short-term memory, balance and coordination of laboratory rats.
- Blueberries are New Jersey’s official state fruit. Not to be outdone, Minnesota has claimed blueberry muffins their official state muffin. (Who knew any state had a state muffin?)
- The annual North American blueberry harvest, if spread in a single layer on a four-lane highway, would stretch from Chicago to New York. About 500 metric tons of the berries are exported each year to Japan, and another 100 metric tons go to Iceland.
Sources: Blueberry Council.org; 2020site.org