Blueberries are hot right now, garnering praise for health protective benefits that have been shown in a procession of health and nutritional studies.
Ounce for ounce, blueberries contain the most potent combination of antioxidants, more than spinach, strawberries and 47 other foods rated in a study at Tufts University. In animal tests, these berries not only stopped the effects of brain aging, but appeared to reverse it. They are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, too.
Blueberries offer so much health protection that some experts recommend eating them every day. This can be a challenge, since they are far less abundant than strawberries and raspberries, and are in season only a few months. Fresh blueberries are also more costly than other berries, but there are other alternatives.
These include dried blueberries and frozen fruit. The dried berries, though, are expensive, costing up to $14.00 a pound at regular supermarkets. This leaves frozen blueberries as the prime choice for much of the year, and for many consumers.
For most of us, frozen is also the only way to enjoy wild blueberries. Grown in Maine, Michigan and Canada, this intensely flavored fruit is an even better source than cultivated berries for the phytochemicals that make blueberries one of the best foods you can eat.
Fortunately, frozen blueberries are a good choice for eating. They make great smoothies. Unlike frozen strawberries and raspberries, they are as good as, and sometimes better than, fresh in muffins, pancakes, cobblers, and for making jam.
For maximum nutritional benefit, the less blueberries are cooked, the better. This makes smoothies, muffins and pancakes among the best ways to use them. I also like to use frozen berries to make blueberry syrup. The berries need only brief cooking and just a little sugar.
Blueberry Syrup – Makes 1 1/2 cups.
10 oz. bag unsweetened frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1-inch x 1/2-inch strip lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
Put blueberries in a deep, heavy saucepan. Add lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until berries are swimming in liquid, about 5 minutes. Add lemon zest. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until fruit is soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in sugar and bring syrup to a boil. Pour syrup into a heat-proof container and cool to room temperature. (It will thicken slightly as it cools.) Remove lemon zest, cover and refrigerate. This syrup keeps up to a week in the refrigerator.
Per 2-tablespoon serving: 45 calories, 0 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat), 11 g. carbohydrate, 0 g. protein, less than 1 g. dietary fiber, 0 mg. sodium.
“Something Different” is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy, and recipe creator for AICR’s Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.
AICR offers a Nutrition Hotline (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. This free service allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides a range of education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. It has provided more than $62 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.
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