It’s that time of year again when my favourite fruits are starting to arrive. What are they? Beautiful, fresh, juicy berries, of course. I am like a blackbear when it comes to berries, especially blueberries. I will eat about four pounds a day when they are in season. I’ll start my day with them for breakfast and lunch. I feel supported and nourished by them until dinnertime when I have a large salad. And, there is good reason why, too!
Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries contain relatively high quantities of ellagic acid, which has a wide range of functions: anti-carcinogen / anti-mutagen, inhibition of HIV binding to cells, inhibition of blood clotting, and free radical scavenging have been documented in humans. The “American Cancer Society’s Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Methods” has documented that Ellagic Acid is a very promising compound, because it causes apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells in the lab tests, with no change to normal healthy cells.
Blueberries are powerful disease fighters for optimum health and are considered a super food. The pigment that makes the blueberries blue is thought to be responsible for antioxidant activity. “We now know 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,” according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other age related diseases. There have be studies in Europe that have documented the benefits of the pigment in blueberries to improved visionand the ease of eye fatigue.
The benefits of antioxidants in blueberriesalso lower the risk of some cancers and promote urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging with their varying amounts of health-promoting phytochemicals such as anthocyanins and phenolics, currently being studied for their antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.
In addition, researchers have identified disease prevention high on the benefits of eating blueberries, citing that blueberries may reduce the build up of so called “bad” cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke through antioxidant properties.
Select berries that are in dry, unstained containers. (Stained containers may indicate oversoft berries that are not freshly picked.) Mold on berries spreads quickly. Never leave a moldy berry next to a good one. Do not wash or hull berries until you’re ready to use them, and refrigerate unwashed berries as soon as possible. Not washing them prolongs their freshness.
As with any fruit the more you handle it the more you damage it, so handle gently with TLC and refrigerate as soon as possible. Store them in a colander in the refrigerator. This allows the cold air to circulate around them.
Have you ever wondered what that powdery blue coating was on a blueberry?
Many people think is spray/pesticide residue, well it isn’t. Fresh Blueberries carry a powdery “bloom” similar to that found on grapes. The powdery blue coating is natural wax or protective skin for the fruit and is a sign of a healthy berry.
If you are going to freeze them DO NOT wash them.
If you wash off this powdery coating off, the berries will freeze like a brick. By not washing, the wax remains on the berry and lets lets the berries individually freeze so you’ll have little blue marbles instead. So buy organic or unsprayed blueberries. In the case of refrigerated blueberries, the coating keeps them from going bad.
Like tomatoes, berries are at their fullest flavour at room temperature. So, when you are ready to eat your berries, take them out ahead of time.