Monday, December 28, 2009
I LOVE Blueberries, but....
I love blueberries, but...there's a catch.
I love blueberries so much that I bought a few plants last spring and plan to buy more this upcoming spring. It is a challenge to grow my own blueberries because my soil here is not nearly acidic enough, but I'm working on lowering the pH with sulfur.
Blueberries are readily grown within 50-100 miles of here because most of the mountain soil is great for acid-loving plants like blueberries and rhododendrons. This past summer I went to a couple of U-Pick blueberry farms and picked several gallons of blueberries that I froze.
My favorite way to eat blueberries is to drop a handful of slightly-thawed berries onto a bowl of plain yogurt. It's a tasty treat for me, and I do it often. I labored under the delusion of a side benefit for me besides the taste: fresh (or frozen) blueberries are known to be great antioxidant powerhouses, destroying the free radicals in our systems that contribute to many health problems like macular degeneration as we age. They also fight high cholesterol, cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer.
Now a new study reported in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine shows that blueberries lose their power when eaten with a protein, including milk or milk products. The study assessed the bioavailability of phenolics after consumption of blueberries with and without milk. (Phenolics are the active compounds in plants that give blueberries their antioxidant potential.)
Their suggestion is to eat high antioxident fruits 1 hour before ingesting protein, or 2 hours afterwards. In fact, the general health suggestions across the web are to eat 3 servings of fresh fruits every day... blueberries just happen to top the list of fruits highest in antioxidants. By the way, the antioxidant properties in fruits are destroyed by heating, thus blueberry muffins are merely tasty but do not offer the health benefits of fresh or frozen berries.
Sigh. There goes my favorite snack of blueberries and yogurt unless I don't care about any health benefits.