I ate my first blueberry at age 25. That is hard to believe for a Northwest gal who eats pounds of them a year, but growing up in South Africa, I had never seen a blueberry. We had a plethora of wonderful fruit and vegetables available but they were local only – papaya, pineapple, cherries. No blueberries.
What a treat it was to eat blueberries, pick blueberries, and cook with blueberries. Each year, I eagerly await blueberry season and rejoice in its bounty. And I have a learned a lot about blueberries through the years:
- Eat them organic whenever possible as they are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
- They are as delicious in salads as in pies.
- Buy them in large quantities – my kids can eat their body weight in blueberries in a single sitting!
So, it was no surprise that the second Zing Bar flavor we developed was blueberry almond. We feel strongly about the fact that we use organic blueberries in our bar, and we are very cognizant of the many health benefits that these blueberries convey.
Blueberries are a potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds including everybody’s favorite flavonoid, the anthocyanidin. These protective constituents help to explain why blueberries are linked in the research to strengthening blood vessels, improving vision and preventing urinary tract infections.
In a 2002 Newsweek article, Tufts neuroscientist James Joseph called the blueberry “the brain berry” due to its significant impact on improved cognitive health. Blueberries are also associated with lowered risk of some cancers and the American Institute of Cancer Research says that “blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances that can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer.”
Blueberries are a wonderful food for people who are working on losing weight by staying full with fewer calories. They are a very low calorie option and have lots of fiber so they are satisfying when eaten in combination with a protein and healthy fat source. A Zing bar is a great example of that combo. Blueberries are also an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium.
There is ongoing research into the health benefits of blueberries and my guess is that more and more will be discovered. But, in the meantime, I am just enjoying my daily dose of fresh blueberries in season, dried blueberries or organic frozen blueberries the rest of the year.
Here are some of my favorite blueberry ideas:
- Pick lots in season, freeze them and eat them frozen on a hot summer’s day.
- Throw some dried blueberries into a cored apple and bake in the oven until the apple is soft.
- Put dried blueberries on your peanut butter sandwich for a sweet treat without the jelly.
- Put out a big bowl of blueberries while dinner is cooking. Watch your family make those nutritional gems disappear.
- Throw fresh or dried blueberries into a spinach salad. Yum!
- Keep a blueberry almond Zing Bar in your car, purse or desk for the perfect on the go snack.