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Blueberry Science

March 19, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I often see advice given by nutritionists and other medical experts recommending that you start the day with a healthy breakfast. Since blueberries are known to be one of the most beneficial of all fruits, a blueberry smoothie or yogurt topped with these berries are common suggestions. The trouble with this advice is that it may very well be counterproductive.

New research published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine indicates that combining blueberries with milk severely negates the antioxidant effects of this powerhouse fruit. Here’s an overview of how this determination was made:

  • 11 healthy adults were first given a 7 ounce serving of blueberries along with 7 ounces of water.
  • Blood tests measuring antioxidant activity were administered prior to eating the blueberries and 1, 2 and 5 hours afterward.
  • On a separate day, these same volunteers were given an identical amount of blueberries with 7 ounces of whole milk.
  • The exact same set of blood tests were run again.
Blueberry Antioxidants

The results of the blood work indicate that the participants’ antioxidant status improved after ingesting the blueberries and water. But testing conducted after the blueberries and milk showed that there was no increase in blood antioxidant capacity. The milk essentially blocked the protection afforded by the blueberries.

The surprises don’t stop there. Another common misconception about blueberries (and fruits in general) is that the cooking process diminishes antioxidant and nutrient content. In certain instances that is true. But according to a recent study conducted at James Madison University, baking, microwaving, pan frying and simmering wild blueberries does not negatively affect their antioxidant potential. In fact, pan fried blueberries exhibited higher antioxidant capacity than thawed (uncooked) blueberries! This observation is not unheard of. Tomatoes cooked with some form of fat offer greater absorption of antioxidants, such as lycopene, than raw tomatoes.

These results provide the basis for the researchers’ concluding remarks, “Antioxidants in wild blueberries appear to be heat stable … Cooked wild blueberries can be recommended as a good source of dietary antioxidants.”

If you’ve been told that organic blueberries are better for you than their conventionally grown counterparts, then you’ve been well informed.

A study published in July of 2008 found that organically grown blueberries outperformed conventionally grown blueberries when several health promoting antioxidants were compared. According to the authors of the study, “The organic culture … produced fruit with higher contents of myricetin 3-arabinoside, quercetin 3-glucoside, delphinidin 3-galactoside, delphinidin 3-glucoside, delphinidin 3-arabinoside, petunidin 3-galactoside, petunidin 3-glucoside, and malvidin 3-arabinoside than conventional culture. There was a significant correlation between the ORAC values and total phenolics and total anthocyanins.” In other words, most of the good stuff for which you’re eating blueberries is present in much higher quantities in organic blueberries.

Now that you have a more scientific foundation about how to use blueberries, I’d like to suggest a few natural options that sidestep the “blueberry blockers”.

Option #1:

Instead of using cow’s milk in your protein shake/smoothie, use coconut milk. You may also want to avoid any milk derived protein (casein and whey). Alternatives to milk based proteins include: brown rice protein, egg protein, golden pea protein and hemp protein.

Blueberry Chart

Option #2

Try out this lower sugar, non-dairy muffin recipe. Here’s an example of a healthful coconut blueberry morning muffin.

Option #3

If you like hot cereal in the morning, then you may want to consider this low carb, hot almond blueberry pudding.

Option #4

Even a piping hot, organic blueberry pie would be great! But try to use stevia instead of sugar and a nut based crust instead of a hydrogenated fat filled frozen pie crust from your local market.

Blueberries are truly one of nature’s super foods. I hope you’ll use some of this information to help yourself and others derive the greatest possible benefit from them.

Be well!

JP

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4 Comments & Updates to “Blueberry Science”

  1. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    another blueberry benefit from professor Fats:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl5hknXqXps

  2. JP Says:

    Nice. Thanks for posting that.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. bossbella Says:

    I think Maqui berry has more antioxidant than blue berry .About 90000!!!

  4. JP Says:

    Bossbella,

    Please review my recent column about maqui berries:

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/813/maqui-berries/

    Be well!

    JP

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