In a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, researchers have found that blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products called "free radicals" that can lead to cancer and other age-related diseases. Anthocyanin - the pigment that makes blueberries blue - is thought to be responsible for this major health benefit.
Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have identified a compound in blueberries that promotes urinary tract health and reduces the risk of infection. It appears to work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the walls of the urinary tract.
Blueberries may reduce the build-up of so called "bad" cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to scientists at the University of California at Davis. Once again, the antioxidants are believed to be the active component.
In another USDA lab at Tufts University, neuroscientists discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age-related loss in their mental capacity, a finding that has important implications for humans. Again, the high antioxidant activity of blueberries probably played a role.
Blueberries are also low in sodium and high in dietary fiber and potassium ... all this for only 40 calories per 1/2 cup serving!
Blueberry Picking Tips
To pick your blueberry off the bush, follow these easy steps: Look for berries that are plump and full with a light gray-blue color. A berry that has a hint of red isn’t fully ripened but will ripen after it is picked. Since blueberries hang on the bushes in bunches, the easiest way to pick them is to have your bucket on the middle of your arm while you are picking the berries. If you are using a tupperware container, holding it right underneath the bunch is ideal. To pick the berries, cup a ripe bunch gently in your hand and rub them with your fingers. The ripe berries will simply fall off into your bucket while the unripe berries will remain on the bush.