Blueberries are native to the United States. Native Americans were the first to discover these blue pearls. They were found both in bogs and in the forest. Settlers from the New World, found this bounty of goodness, but were unable to farm and grow blueberries until the Wampanoag Indians taught them how to master agriculture in the New World. The Pilgrims were taught the many uses of this superfood. Blueberry Juice was used for coughs. Tea from the leaves of blueberries was thought to be good for the blood. The juice was also used as a dye for clothes and baskets. Berries were dried, crushed into powder and rubbed into meat for added flavor and also used with beef in making beef jerky. The Native Americans also put blueberries in soups and stews. Today- blueberries are a staple in our grocery stores. You can either find them fresh or frozen. More than 38 states farm blueberries commercially. North America accounts for 90% of the world market of blueberry production. Many countries around the globe have realized the value of blueberries nutritionally and economically. At this time Japan is gaining momentum in this enterprise as they are consuming more than 500 metric tons yearly. Humans are not only lovers of blueberries, deer, ducks, birds and bears, consume these as often as they can. Due to the popularity and notoriety of blueberries, July is National Blueberry Month. This was decided by US Security of Agriculture, Ann M. Veneman, in July 2003. Blueberries should be firm, with a blue purple color. It is recommended you shake the blueberry container to see if the berries move freely or not. If berries are soft and damaged they will not move easily in the container. Ripe berries should be stored in a covered container where they will stay fresh for a week. The nutritional value of blueberries is immense. The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University measured the antioxidant values of fresh fruits and vegetables scoring each of them for its “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” or ORAC. The higher the number, the greater its ability to neutralize free radicals. The ORAC score is based on a serving size of 3.5 ounces. The top 10 ranked: Blueberries 2400 Kale 177 Strawberries 1540 Spinach 1260 Raspberries 1220 Brussels Sprouts 980 Plums 949 Broccoli Florets 890 Oranges 750 Beets 840 Red Grapes 739 Red Bell Peppers 710 Cherries 670 Yellow Corn 400 Blueberries are a rich source of: Polyphenols, Salicylic Acid, Carotenoids, Fiber, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Potassium, Manganese, Iron, Riboflavin, Niacin and Phytoestrogens. Blueberries rank in the top three of all superfoods (Salmon, Spinach, Blueberries). Researchers know that increased blood levels of antioxidants have shown favorability in reducing the risk of breast cancers. This was done by consuming the whole fruit, not from extracts or supplements. The carotenoids found in blueberries helps to regulate the immune system, increase UV protection of your skin exposure, inhibit abnormal cell growth and help to decrease the incidence of age related macular degeneration. The most recent update on the benefits of eating blueberries is the discovery that blueberries can help protect the brain against oxidative stress, which may lessen the effects of Alzheimers disease and dementia. Blueberries seem to slow, even reverse many degenerative diseases associated with the aging brain. With the ever growing aging population, by the year 2050, 30% of Americans will be over 65. Continuous research is ongoing to find ways to slow diseases, prevent diseases and cure diseases with superfoods and to ensure generations to come have a healthier and better quality of life.
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