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Blueberries Are A Healthy Delicacy

Blueberries have an enticing aroma and taste delicious. Incidentally, they help with all sorts of ailments such as digestive problems, inflammation, and cardiovascular diseases.

Blueberries the healthy forest fruit

The blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), like the lingonberry and the cranberry, belongs to the heather family. They all love nutrient-poor and acidic soils and are particularly fond of forest clearings, moorland, and heathland. The dwarf shrubs even feel at home in the mountains: in the Swiss canton of Graubunden they thrive at up to 2,800 meters above sea level.

This is what blueberries taste like

The delicious forest fruits – also known as blueberries or blackberries – are a real delicacy due to their sweet-sour, aromatic-berry taste.

Is the blueberry a medicinal plant?

Old fairy tales and legends suggest that the blueberry was once considered a mysterious plant. So it should grow where the entrances to the subterranean kingdom of the dwarves are and protect them and their treasures from evil.

In the world of legends, it is primarily medicinal plants that are described as mystical. This also applies to blueberries. Medieval sources show that berries and leaves have been used for a long time (and to this day) as a remedy for all sorts of ailments such as gastrointestinal disorders and problems with the lining of the mouth and throat.

What are cultivated blueberries?

Since blueberries have always been very popular, there have been countless unsuccessful attempts to grow them. The plant is very demanding in terms of soil quality, location, etc., so it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the US plant breeder Elizabeth Coleman White succeeded in cultivating blueberries.

Soon after, the first cultivated blueberries were also cultivated in Europe. The Netherlands and Germany were among the pioneers. There are now more than 100 varieties worldwide, and about 30 are marketed. But contrary to what is often assumed, all varieties do not come from our European wild blueberries, but from the American blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum).

What is the difference between wild blueberries and cultivated blueberries?

Cultivated blueberries differ from their wild relatives in Europe in that they are larger and have white rather than blue flesh. In addition, cultivated blueberries taste sweeter and far less aromatic. This depends on the composition of the ingredients. For example, cultivated blueberries contain B. more sugar and citric acid, while the content of quinic acid is higher in wild blueberries.

What nutrients do blueberries contain?

With regard to the macronutrients, the wild and the cultivated form differ only slightly from each other. They both consist of around 85 percent water and are low in protein and high in carbohydrates. 100 grams of raw blueberries contain about:

  • water 85g
  • carbohydrates 7 g
  • Fiber 5g
  • protein 1 g
  • Fat 1g

How many calories are in blueberries?

The calorie content of 100 grams of blueberries is between 40 and 60 kcal, depending on the variety and therefore the sugar content.

What vitamins do blueberries contain?

Although wild blueberries are rich in vitamins, they can only really score three of them when it comes to covering the daily requirement. For example, a single serving of 200 grams of raw blueberries is sufficient to cover 60 percent of the officially stated requirement for vitamin C, almost 35 percent for vitamin E, and around 30 percent for vitamin K.

Cultivated blueberries perform worse in comparison because their vitamin content is lower overall: However, around 30 percent of the vitamin C requirement can be covered with 200 grams of freshly cultivated fruit.

What minerals do blueberries contain?

The blueberry is not a mineral miracle, but the wild fruits in particular are a very good source of manganese. This trace element supports the formation of collagen, stimulates the formation of cartilage and intervertebral disc tissue, and also makes an important contribution to the fight against free radicals. 100 grams of raw wild blueberries are enough to meet 25 percent of your daily needs.

Cultivated blueberries also cannot keep up with the wild form in terms of mineral content: you would have to eat 3 times as many cultivated blueberries to get the same denominator.

What is the glycemic load of blueberries?

Blueberries have an extremely low glycemic load of 1.5 (values up to 10 are considered low) and therefore only have a minor effect on blood sugar levels. So it is not surprising that delicious fruits have been used against diabetes in traditional medicine for a long time.

Why are blueberries blue?

Blueberries owe their striking blue appearance to specific plant pigments called anthocyanins. These are the most important bioactive substances in blueberries, which are also one of the best sources of anthocyanins in the world.

In 2018, analyses at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia revealed that between 582 and 795 milligrams of anthocyanins were hidden in 100 grams of raw wild blueberries collected in northern Italy. In comparison, the same amount of raspberries contains around 365 milligrams, and cherries only around 122 milligrams.

According to a Slovenian study, the content of anthocyanins and other ingredients varies depending on the location. Because the shadier it was, the lower the salary.

Do wild blueberries contain more anthocyanins than cultivated blueberries?

Various studies have shown that wild blueberries have a higher anthocyanin content than cultivated blueberries. This is already visible visually since the coloring is contained in the skin as well as in the flesh of wild European blueberries. Cultivated blueberries, on the other hand, have white flesh, so the anthocyanins are only in the skin.

How high the anthocyanin content is depends not only on the variety or species, as Finnish researchers found out. They tested what happens when cultivated blueberries are grown where only native blueberries normally grow, namely in the northern Italian Alps. It turned out that the anthocyanin content increases significantly when cultivated blueberries grow at higher altitudes. It is therefore also dependent on temperature and altitude.

What is the effect of anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins protect the fruit from UV light and free radicals. When people or animals eat blueberries, they too benefit from the effects of the coloring agents. Studies have shown that anthocyanins are among the most powerful antioxidants and e.g. B. against inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer are effective.

In addition, in addition to anthocyanins, blueberries contain many other secondary plant substances such as chlorogenic acid, resveratrol, and quercetin, but also vitamin C and vitamin E, which also act as antioxidants. The interaction of all these substances increases the antioxidant effect immensely.

Can anthocyanins from blueberries be used by the body at all?

According to older studies, researchers announced that the bioavailability of anthocyanins was only 1 percent and was therefore so poor that no medical benefit could be expected from them – a statement that has been repeated in the media ever since. However, this was only concluded on the basis of the low anthocyanin concentrations in blood plasma and urine.

In the meantime, however, most scientists have long since agreed that good sources of anthocyanins such as blueberries have great antioxidant potential. It is now assumed that the absorption rate is higher and it is also known that the anthocyanins are converted into other active substances during the digestive process.

What is the healing effect of the blueberry?

The blueberry has astringent, antidiabetic, antiseptic, and hemostatic properties and is an integral part of phytotherapy (plant medicine). Even the Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products (a specialist body of the European Medicines Agency (EMA)) has classified dried and fresh blueberries as traditional herbal medicines.

Fresh blueberries

Fresh fruits are recommended for constipation. In addition, extracts are made from it: The anthocyanin content should be 25 percent in these, and a single dose is 100 milligrams of anthocyanins. Other indications include varicose veins, aching and heavy legs, veins in the eye, peripheral vascular insufficiency, and prevention of night blindness.

Put 5 to 10 grams of squashed fruit in 150 milliliters of cold water and bring to a boil. After 10 minutes you can strain the tea. Blueberry tea may also be helpful topically as a gargle for sores in the mouth and throat, as well as for wounds and rashes.

Blueberry leaves

In folk medicine, bilberry leaves, which are rich in tannin, are also used to treat diarrhea. Pour 150 milliliters of boiling water over 1 to 2.5 grams of finely chopped leaves and strain the tea after 5 to 10 minutes. The daily dose is 3 to 4 cups. However, since the leaves contain alkaloids and can lead to poisoning if used for a long time, it is not recommended.

External use in the form of rinses and washes, on the other hand, is unproblematic and helps e.g. B. with eczema. For a bath, add 150 grams of fresh or dried blueberry leaves to 2 liters of cold water and boil briefly. Leave the tea covered for 20 minutes and pour it into the bath water after straining.

How do blueberries work for diarrhea and constipation?

In the case of diarrhea, dried blueberries are always used, which have a constipating effect due to their high tannin content. Fresh berries, on the other hand, tend to promote defecation and can therefore be used to treat constipation.

Do Blueberries Reduce Inflammation?

In 2018, Indian researchers took a close look at various medicinal plants, including blueberries, which are used in folk medicine to combat inflammation. They found out that their active ingredients – e.g. B. the anthocyanins – counteract inflammatory processes just as well as anti-inflammatory drugs. However, blueberries have the advantage that they are safe compared to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs and cause no side effects.

Inflammatory processes play a role in numerous diseases such as B. arteriosclerosis and metabolic syndrome play a key role. The term “metabolic syndrome” encompasses four problems: high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high blood lipid levels, and obesity.

A placebo-controlled study at Justus Liebig University with 30 healthy volunteers found that smoothies and fruit juices (330 milliliters per day for 2 weeks) that are rich in anthocyanins protect against oxidative stress and have a positive effect on inflammatory parameters.

In a study at the University of Eastern Finland, 15 subjects with metabolic syndrome were given 400 grams of fresh blueberries a day, and 12 maintained their usual diet. The researchers also found that regular consumption of blueberries can reduce inflammation and thus the risk of metabolic syndrome in the long term.

Do blueberries help with gingivitis?

A study conducted at the University of Kristianstad specifically looked at whether blueberries could help with gingivitis. The subjects received no dental treatment and received either 250 grams of blueberries, 500 grams of blueberries, or a placebo daily. The fourth group was the control group, which received dental treatment.

After more than a week, the patients were examined again. It was found that bleeding gums could be reduced by 41 and 59 percent on average with 250 grams and 500 grams of blueberries, respectively. The 500-gram group performed even better than the medicated control group, which reduced bleeding gums by 58 percent.

The inflammation values had only improved significantly in those test subjects who had eaten 500 grams of blueberries.

Can you eat blueberries if you have diabetes?

Since obesity is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes, nutrition plays an essential role in terms of prevention. However, independent of body weight, according to evaluations (36) of three long-term studies with thousands of subjects, special foods such as blueberries make a very specific contribution to reducing the risk of diabetes.

Finnish researchers divided 47 people at high risk of diabetes into 3 groups, they received either blueberries or other berries with lower anthocyanin content such as blueberries. B. raspberries or a control diet. Positive effects on blood sugar levels and insulin release could only be observed in the blueberry group.

Diabetics are often warned against eating fruit because it contains fructose. A 7-year study with 500,000 test persons clearly contradicts this warning: Diabetics who eat fresh fruit more often develop complications less frequently and live longer.

In the meantime, various studies have shown that the plant substances in blueberries have antidiabetic properties since they e.g. improve insulin resistance. According to Iranian researchers, diabetics can counteract the disrupted glucose and lipid metabolism by eating blueberries.

Are Organic Blueberries Better?

Although blueberries are far less contaminated with pesticides than strawberries, it still pays off to go organic. Compared to conventionally grown fruits, organic blueberries usually do very well.

In 2014, analyses by the Swiss consumer magazine Saldo showed that all organic blueberries were free of pesticides. In a test by the Salzburg Chamber of Labor in 2017, all organic blueberries received top marks because no residues were found.

Can you grow blueberries yourself?

As you already know, cultivating blueberries was not an easy task. The cultivation of cultivated blueberries is still not exactly easy. The soil as well as the selection of the variety and the location are extremely important. Varieties such as Vaccinium Bluecrop, Elizabeth, and Duke are considered to be particularly robust and resistant.

If the soil is rich in nutrients and loamy, blueberries do not feel well at all. It is then necessary to exchange the soil in the planting hole for a loose mixture of bark or leaf compost and sand. You can also buy a special blueberry soil. The location should be sunny. When planting, the root ball must protrude one to two fingers out of the ground, otherwise, the roots will die due to a lack of oxygen.

Only water the plants with rainwater or tap water that is very low in lime, as lime leads to growth disorders. From the flowering period, the soil must be evenly moist, otherwise, the berries will remain tiny and fall off prematurely.

What are blueberries used for in the kitchen?

Whether in fruit salad, on breakfast rolls, in muesli, or on their own: raw blueberries taste like poetry. You can also use the fruits to prepare blueberry juice or desserts such as delicious blueberry cake, refreshing ice cream, or rice pudding. Many people swear by blueberries in salads or even in curry.

A special treat is the blueberry jam. Cooking can also preserve the fruit for a longer period of time. However, since industrial sugar has a negative effect on health, you should rely on alternatives such as agave syrup. You need 250 grams of blueberries for every 500 grams. If you add a few apple peels and the juice of half a lemon, the jam will set wonderfully.

Blueberry puree has a great advantage in that you don’t need industrial sugar or any other sweetener. The fresh blueberry puree will keep in the fridge for two to four days. However, if you boil the mush in sterilized mason jars at 75 degrees for around 25 minutes (in a water bath or oven), you can keep it for a few months.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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