Blueberries

Blueberries

BlueberriesBlueberries are probably one of the best well-known summer snacks. They are not only sweet and succulent, but they are also a source of healthy nutrients. They can be eaten when they have been freshly picked, or you can add them to a wide variety of recipes. They are often added to smoothies, desserts and cakes. If you want to find out about the different types of blueberries and their health benefits, keep reading!

Description

Blueberries can have a range of different flavors. While many blueberries have a mild sweet taste, other can have more of a tangy taste. The blueberries which are sweet are often cultivated. Those which have a tangy flavor, on the other hand, are often wild blueberries. The berries are known for being full of healthy nutrients while also being very low in calories. Blueberries belong to the shrub which is part of the heath family. The scientific name of this family is Ericaeae. Other food products which also belong to the same family include bilberry and bilberry. Azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel also considered to be part of this family. Blueberries usually grow together in clusters and they range in size. Small blueberries can be as small as a small pea, while the larger blueberries can have the size of a marble. The berries also have a deep color. They range from being blue to purple-black. The surface of the blueberries is covered by a white-gray waxy “bloom”. This layer serves as protection of the flesh of the berry. The skin is often described to be semi-transparent. It is also encased with small seeds. The time period in which blueberries are eaten the most is between May and October. This is the time that blueberries are in season. Besides the fact that blueberries belong to the Ericaceae family of plant, they are also part of the Vaccinium genus. Within this specific genus, there are different types of blueberries which will be addressed in the next section. All the different types of blueberries which are described in the following section are used in various cuisines all over the world. The berries are used in cuisines ranging from Asia to the Mediterranean. There are some types of blueberries which were transported to Europe and Asia from North America. However, nowadays you will be able to find blueberries on all three continents.

Different types of blueberries

The first type of blueberries is the high-bush blueberries. The high-bush  blueberries are the type of blueberries which are most commonly known. They are the ones which are often sold in the supermarkets or at the local fruits shop. Because they are in such high demand, they are also the type of blueberries which are mainly cultivated in various parts of the world. This type of blueberries include both southern and northern high-bush. These types of high-bush can grow as high as 12 feet. They can become up to 12 feet when they are uncultivated. However, when they are cultivated they often do not grow higher than 7 feet. The cultivated blueberries are often hybridized to produce blueberries which are larger in size. This is mainly because consumers prefer blueberries which are larger in size. Another type of blueberries is low-bush blueberries. These type of berries are often referred to as “wild blueberries”. These low-bushes usually do not become larger than 2 feet in height. 2 feet is even considered to be large in size since they usually do not reach more than 12 inches off the ground. The berries which are produced by the low-bush are smaller in size compared to those produced by the high-bush. Low-bush blueberries are not commonly found in supermarkets despite their sweet taste and the fact that they grow wild. This has mainly do with the fact that consumers prefer larger size berries. Another famous type of blueberries is rabbit-eye blueberries. These type of berries are considered to be native to the southern regions of the United States. When these blueberries grow in their native state, they can grow to become up to 20 feet in height. Rabbit-eye blueberries are not as commonly cultivated as high-bush blueberries. However, when they are cultivated, the plant does not grow to become as high as high-bush blueberries. The smallest type of rabbit-eye blueberries are usually estimated to become around 4 feet high. The larger ones are said to become up to 6 or 7 feet high.

History

Within North America, blueberries play an important role. This is due to the fact that many species of blueberries are native to North America. High-bush blueberries were almost exclusively found in North America. Low-bush blueberries, on the other hand, can be found in many other parts of the world. For example, besides North America, low-bush blueberries are considered to be native to Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean. Up until today, the United States is the largest producer of blueberries in the world. They currently supply more than half of all blueberries on a global scale. The second largest producer of blueberries in the world is Canada. Canada is said to produce almost thirty percent of all blueberries. Within the United States, blueberries are cultivated in a few specific states. For example, New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina and Maine are the states where blueberry farming takes place. Maine is especially specialized in the production of low-bush blueberries. It is therefore also no surprise that they are the largest producer of low-bush blueberries in the world. Among the native American tribes in the United States and Canada, the cultivation of blueberries was a widespread activity. When European colonizers arrived in North America, the native Americans taught them about blueberries. The European then brought blueberries back to Europe. However, the cultivation of blueberries in Europe only started in the twentieth and 21st century. Since blueberries are now also cultivated in many South American countries, blueberries are now widely available throughout the year. Countries such as Argentina, Chile and Uruguay all cultivate blueberries. In other parts of the world, blueberries are also widely cultivated. For example, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand also produce blueberries on a large scale.


Health benefits of blueberries

Blueberries are a source of many healthy nutrients for the body. Besides the fact that they have a sweet taste, they can be combined with many different food products as well as provide you with a nutritional boost. One of the health benefits of blueberries is that they help to combat aging. They do not only help to reserve damage which can be caused by free radicals, but it also helps to product your body from toxins. Our body is continuously exposed to bacteria and pathogens. Blueberries are therefore good for your immune system. Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants and pro-anthocyanidins. Especially the latter have been found to have anti-aging properties. The majority of research which has been conducted on pro-anthocyanidins has been linked to their ability to reverse inflammation. Inflammation is considered to be the main chronic disease throughout the world. It is often considered to be root for many other diseases. For example, it does not only play a role in the development of diabetes and heart diseases, but it can also have an influence on the production of cancer cells in the body.  Another health benefit of blueberries is that they can give boost the brain function. Since blueberries contain phenols, they are also known as neuro-protective agents. According to scientists, this implies that blueberries can protect our brain cells from neurotoxicity, degeneration and oxidative stress. Other food products which are said to have a similar effects include strawberries, hazelnuts, mangos and green tea. Moreover, it was also found that blueberries play a role in slowing down cognitive decline and improving memory. Scientists who found these results said this is due to the fact that it is particularly the antioxidants in blueberries which are responsible for this effect.

Additional health benefits

Blueberries provide more health benefits than mentioned in the previous section. Blueberries have also been found to support digestion. Since blueberries are a natural source of fiber, they can help to regulate the gastrointestinal track. The soluble and insoluble fibers which can be found in blueberries support the overall digestive system. Thus, if you experience digestive problems it is recommended to eat blueberries on a regular basis. A researcher at the University of Maine found that wild blueberries can have a positive influence on the digestive track due to the prebiotic potential of blueberries. She stated that blueberries can promote the growth of probiotics in the colon. This therefore implies that blueberries are especially recommended for those people who have digestive problems. Blueberries also have a positive influence on the cardiovascular system. A study which has been published in the journal “Circulation” found that consuming blueberries together with strawberries can decrease the risk of a heart attack up to 33 percent. The same benefits were not observed with other foods which contain antioxidants. This means that blueberries therefore contain a unique combination of nutrients which promotes heart health. Another health benefit of blueberries is that they improve the skin. Many skin products therefore contain blueberry extracts. Various studies confirmed that the vitamins and minerals found in blueberries help to restore the hormone balance in the body. When this hormone balance is restored, acne is counteracted. Blueberries can therefore be considered to be a perfect home remedy for acne.

How to select and store

Blueberries are commonly sold in supermarkets and local fruit shops. When you purchase blueberries there are a few things you should pay attention to. Make sure that when you choose blueberries that they are firm and have a uniform hue color. Also, they should have a whitish bloom since this serves as protection of the berry itself. Most blueberries are sold in plastic containers. When choosing your berries, shake the container beforehand. The blueberries should have the tendency to more freely. If this is not the case, then it is most likely the case that the berries are soft and damaged. These berries should be avoided. Also, avoid those which have a watery texture or when they appear dull in color. The berries should also be free from moisture. When the berries have been exposed to water, they will decay more quickly. Blueberries are also commonly sold in frozen form. If you decide to choose frozen blueberries, slowly shake the bag. Similarly as to the blueberries which are sold in plastic containers, they should be able to move freely. If this is not the case, then the blueberries are mostly clumped together. This implies that they have most likely been thawed and then refrozen. It is recommended to store blueberries in the refrigerator. In the refrigerator, blueberries will most likely remain good up to three days. They should not be stored at room temperature since they will spoil within a day or two. You can also freeze fresh berries. However, this could change their taste and their texture. Before you freeze blueberries, make sure you wash and drain them.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 756x
Added: 11-02-2017 15:27
Last modified: 29-04-2017 22:09

Relevant links

Categories

There are already 325 articles added to this website.
The copyrights of infowiki.com apply!