I don't remember eating blueberries as a child. I never saw fresh blueberries. Blueberry pie was an unusual gourmet offering; my family bought fresh Puyallup Valley strawberries.
My introduction to raw blueberries is mostly through my wife Peggy. She buys and washes them, lays them out to dry on paper towels and puts them on a cookie sheet to freeze; then she puts them in a freezer bag. When taken out of the freezer they thaw quickly and can be used in cereals, yogurt, desserts, and salads.
Blueberries are number two in fruit popularity; only strawberries are higher in yearly U.S. sales. Since blueberries are one of the few native fruits of North America, the Native Americans used dried blueberries and cranberries along with dried lean meat to create pemmican. This Native American "paleo" food was made from a meat mixture pounded into a paste and preserved in the form of pressed cakes or strips.
Packed with antioxidants and phytochmeicals, blueberries are high in potassium and vitamin C. They may not only lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory; inflammation is recognized as a key component of most chronic diseases.
In summarizing the Linus Pauling Institute's Diet and Optimum Health Conference of 2001, Stephen Lawson, LPI Administrative Officer wrote, "Caloric restriction, identified as protective against cancer, may also retard aging and protect against Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, antioxidant phytochemicals present in fruits, especially blueberries, and vegetables have been found to improve cognitive performance in many animals."
Blueberries are great by themselves, but when combined with other fresh berries they deliver an intricate flavor profile. Combine blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries on French toast for a great breakfast. Make the French toast with whole grain bread like that baked by Roman Meal and you have elevated the meal well into the superfood category.
Blueberries are good for almost everyone and for seniors the addition of blueberries into the diet is even more important. It's interesting to note two studies listed on LPI's references for "Micronutrients for Older Adults." The first one, Blueberry supplementation enhances signaling and prevents behavioral deficits in an Alzheimer disease model, reveals in the abstract "Thus, our data indicate for the first time that it may be possible to overcome genetic predispositions to Alzheimer disease through diet."
The second study, Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation ends with the conclusion "These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging."
I've had a blueberry gazpacho before, but it required cooking. I think simply making a purée of blueberries with minimal sugar and a little lemon juice would make the nice start of a wonderful meal. I think for our next dinner party we'll start with a cup or small bowl of chilled blueberry soup and a little yogurt. That would give a nice bright color and flavor. I wouldn't strain the soup. The seeds and skin will add a little extra fiber for the meal. Perhaps a turkey roast and parsnips along with a slightly sweet wine would pair well.
With the antioxidants and phytochemicals of blueberries working together giving us potential benefits for the nervous system and for brain health, improved memory, and its anti-inflammatory properties working for us, blueberries don't have to be content with being number two. They are number one in my book.
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