Antioxidants help the body protect itself from toxins in the environment and in our food, and blueberries are the top antioxidant fruit, above even cranberries and raspberries. "We have clear science about antioxidants, that our bodies need a natural antioxidant defense network, for lack of a better term," explains Jeffrey B. Blumberg, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University. "Just like a country needs a military system, the human body needs defense workers at all levels -- lieutenants, corporals, generals, staff sergeants -- in the form of antioxidants."
Because they are rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanin, copper, selenium, zinc and iron as well as vitamins C, B, E and A, blueberries help boost the body's immune system. When your immune system is strong, you are less susceptible to colds, viruses, flu, bacterial infections and serious chronic illnesses.
Blueberries have long been touted for their excellent anti-cancer properties. Compounds such as pterostilbene, ellagic acid and anthocyanin have been shown to shrink cancerous tumors and inhibit the growth of certain cancers. As Dr. Mary Ann Lila, professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, reported, "Wild blueberres have cancer-fighting properties at all stages: initiation, promotion and proliferation. Wild blueberry compounds offer a multi-pronged attack against cancer."
A recent study through the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggests that regular consumption of blueberries may help reduce belly fat and lower the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
Skip the Viagra and pass the blueberries. The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to have impressive anti-aging benefits, including improved short-term memory, coordination and balance, as well as protection against more serious neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Research shows that blueberries are even more effective than prescription drugs for lowering cholesterol -- without all the dangerous side effects.
Blueberries are so delicious that they are a cinch to add into almost any dish. Here are a few great suggestions for a beautiful blueberry day from start to finish:
Blueberry Lunch: Toss a handful of blueberries on just about any salad and turn a boring meal into a lunchtime masterpiece. Or try this Lemon Blueberry Chicken Salad for a special treat.
Blueberry Snack: Got a case of the afternoon munchies? Whip up a nutritious and delicious Avocado Blueberry Smoothie.
Blueberry Dinner: Don't be afraid to add blueberries to your favorite savory dishes. They taste amazing when paired with pork, venison, chicken and more. Try this to-die-for recipe for Grilled Venison With Ancho Chile Blueberry Sauce.
Blueberry Dessert: We all know that blueberries make incredible desserts. This recipe for Blueberry Crème Brulee is out of this world.
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