Fats Domino found his thrill on Blueberry Hill; and whilst that may have been unrelated to the fruit, I think it’s safe to say that we would all find it a bit thrilling to be atop a hill of blueberries.
For such a small fruit, blueberries have done a pretty good job at securing a place in our heart and our fruit basket. Maybe it’s small size has been what has us always coming back for more? Or maybe it’s just the perfect balance between sweet and tart? It’s probably the berry’s ability to take your favourite form of carbs from great to amazing. Either way, you could say that we have locked blueberries in our hearts (and muffins) and thrown away the keys.
And whilst we will forever love a blueberry muffin or pancake, these berries are jam packed with health benefits and I think it’s high time that we start eating them sans sugar and refined carbs, and reap their full health benefits.
We could list the benefits of blueberries for days, but a quick google search will have you inundated with more blueberry related lists than you could ever need. So I’m going to focus on the one benefit of blueberries that separate them from the pack: antioxidants.
Let me give you some background on why antioxidants matter. When molecules with a weak bond split, it leaves each molecule with an uneven amount of electrons, resulting in an unstable molecule that are affectionately known as free radicals. Free radicals will bounce around, hitting up against other molecules looking for another electron to balance its self out and become stable again. But other molecules don’t have any extra electrons to spare, so the free radicals will attack nearby stable molecules to steal their electrons. But then the victimized molecule becomes a free radical because it’s lost an electron, and the vicious cycle continues. This domino affect goes on and on, until you’re left with the disruption and damage of a living cell.
This means that having a lot of free radicals in the body can be very damaging on molecular and cellular levels, and results in a huge array of diseases, illnesses, autoimmune conditions, premature ageing and inflammation. The body purposefully creates some free radicals at times, often to fight off viruses and bacteria. But most of them are caused by environmental factors that won’t surprise you; pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, poor diet and pesticides to just name a few.
But this isn’t cause for alarm quite yet, because antioxidants are here to save the day; they neutralize free radicals by sharing a spare electron with them. And the body has a nifty store of antioxidants to help prevent damage in the body. But as we get older, we deplete our store of antioxidants, and the less we have, the more damage is caused from free radicals.
So where do we get more antioxidants? You guessed it: blueberries! They are actually one of the richest sources of of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, phytonutrients found in plants that have exceptional antioxidant abilities. Blueberries have been linked to reducing a vast array of changes and diseases that are related to ageing. They reduce the free radical damage that can result in cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and heart disease.
Their antioxidant abilities also help reduce and even reverse age related damage that happens in the brain, preventing cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and improving a persons memory. They’ve even been linked to reducing wrinkles!
Too much science, not enough recipes? Here you go you hungry bunch…
And because it would be wrong if I didn’t include a pancake recipe:
So next time you’re in the supermarket and blueberries are on sale (because they’re in season), do yourself a favour and a pick up a punnet or five. Your cells will be thanking you for it.
What’s your favourite way to get a blueberry or two in your diet? Let us know in the comments!