Latin name: Vaccinium angustifolium
What is a Blueberry?
One of the few fruits native to North America and a plant of the Vaccinium genus, the blueberry has a smooth skin, blue to blue-black color, juicy light gray-blue flesh and a sweet flavor. It can be eaten raw, used in baked goods or made into jams and jellies.
For centuries, blueberries were a staple of Native American diets, and some northeast Native American tribes developed much folklore around the fruits. The blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star and the elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent “star berries” to relieve the children’s hunger during a famine. Parts of the blueberry plant were also used as medicine. A tea made from the leaves of the plant was thought to be good for the blood and blueberry juice was used to treat coughs.
What are the health benefits of Blueberries?
Blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, and have anti-aging benefits. In a USDA Human Nutrition Research Center lab, neuroscientists discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age related loss in their mental capacity. Blueberries have also been shown to lower blood cholesterol and lipid levels. They are high in manganese and vitamin K, and have a very low glycemic load, making them an ideal fruit for diabetics.
Where can I find Blueberries?
Blueberries can be found in most grocery stores and outdoor markets in season; they are at their freshest from late spring to summer.
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