Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
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Prairie Fare: Add Some Blueberries to Your Menu
By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
Whenever blue is an option for snow cones or other treats, my 7-year-old son chooses the food with his favorite color. I think he really enjoys getting a blue tongue and lips to show me.
There arenít many blue foods in nature, but more blue-colored foods are appearing on grocery store shelves. Blue gelatin and cereal that colors the milk blue are especially popular with kids.
Artificial colorants are safe food additives, but they do not provide the health benefits linked with naturally occurring pigments. According to researchers, adding more natural colorants to your diet is good for your health.
Blueberries in particular are linked with health benefits. According to a USDA study of more than 40 fruits and vegetables, blueberries ranked highest in antioxidant activity. A half-cup serving of blueberries had as much "antioxidant power" as five servings of other fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants help neutralize the damaging effects of "free radicals," substances which damage DNA and cell membranes. The damage caused by free radicals is linked with cancer, heart disease and the aging process.
Scientists extracted the protective chemicals from blueberries, strawberries and spinach. They fed aging rats a diet rich in one of the extracts. The rats fed blueberry extract came out on top in tests of balance and coordination. Blueberry and strawberry extracts were associated with protection against age-related changes in the brain. Rats fed any of the extracts performed better in memory-associated tasks than the rats that didnít consume the extract.
If you have a test to take, however, donít expect that eating blueberries will have an immediate effect.
Other research has linked blueberries and other antioxidant-rich foods with protection against heart disease and stroke. Blueberries may also provide protection from urinary tract infection.
Research continues to grow regarding the health benefits of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Enjoy the benefits of colorful produce.
Experiment a little. Make a frosty berry smoothie by blending a half-cup yogurt, one-half cup orange juice and a half-cup of frozen berries. Top frozen yogurt with berries.
This tasty snack comes from the North American Blueberry Council.