NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

Accessibility


| Share

Celebrate Blueberries in July

Celebrate Blueberries in July

 

                Among the many special happenings in July is it’s designation as “Blueberry Month”.  Blueberries are sweet, nutritious and wildly popular. Often labelled a “superfood,” they are low in calories and incredibly good for you.  Following are some of the many health benefits of blueberries that are supported by research.

                 Blueberries are low in calories, but high in nutrients -The blueberry is a flowering shrub that produces berries that are colored blue to purple, also known as blueberries.  It is strongly related to similar shrubs, such as those that produce cranberries and huckleberries.  Blueberries are small, around 5-16 millimeters (0.2-0.6 inches) in diameter, and have a flared crown at the end. They are green in color at first, then change to blue-purple as they ripen.

                Blueberries are among the most nutrient dense berries. A 1 cup serving (148 grams) of blueberries contain -              Fiber: 4 grams, Vitamin C: 24% of the RDA, Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA and Manganese: 25% of the RDA.  Blueberries are about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates.

                 Blueberries head up the list of antioxidant Foods.   Antioxidants protect our bodies from damage by free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cellular structures and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. Blueberries are believed to contain the highest antioxidant capacity of ALL commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.

                 Blueberries reduce DNA damage, which may help protect against aging and cancer.  DNA damage is part of the reason we grow older, and it also plays an important role in the development of diseases like cancer. Because blueberries are high in antioxidants, they can help neutralize some of the free radicals that cause damage to our DNA.   In one 4-week study, 168 participants were instructed to drink 1 liter (34 ounces) of a mixture of blueberry and apple juice, every day. At the end of the study, oxidative DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20%.

                Blueberries protect cholesterol in the blood from becoming damaged.  Oxidative damage is not limited to our cells and DNA. It is also a problem when our circulating LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) are oxidized.  Oxidation of LDL is a crucial step in the heart disease process. Fortunately for us, the antioxidants in blueberries are strongly linked to reduced levels of oxidized LDL.

                 Blueberries can help maintain brain function and improve memory.  Oxidative stress can accelerate the brain’s aging process, having negative effects on brain function.   A six year study of 16,010 elderly participants found that blueberries and strawberries were linked to delays in cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.

                Enjoy the health benefits of blueberries in this colorful salad.

 

Grilled Chicken Salad with Fresh Blueberries, Pecans and Honey-Poppy Vinaigrette

 

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, 8 ounces each
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 6 ounces arugula
  • 6 ounces spinach
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta
  •  

Directions -

        Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with garlic, 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Grill until internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 8 minutes per side; set aside to cool.

        Heat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet; bake until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. In a mixing bowl, whisk the balsamic, white balsamic, honey, mustard and remaining salt and pepper.  Continue whisking while gradually adding the olive oil. Stir in the poppy seeds; set aside.

        With two forks, shred the chicken.  In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula and spinach with about ½ cup of the vinaigrette. Top with chicken, blueberries, cheese and pecans and toss gently.

 

Number of servings 8

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.