Portland, Maine – In recent good news for health-conscious consumers, Health magazine has named wild blueberries high on its list of “America’s Healthiest Superfoods for Women.” The feature, running in the magazine’s January/February 2010 issue, singles out wild blueberries’ impressive variety of potential health benefits, including preventing memory loss, improving motor skills, lowering blood pressure, and fighting wrinkles.
“If berries are nutritional treasures, wild blueberries are the crown jewels … truly one of nature’s ultimate antiaging foods,” according to the feature, which gave wild blueberries the No. 2 slot on its Superfoods list. Health editors recommend that readers mix in wild blueberries with their daily berries servings “as much as possible” for their many health benefits, and point readers to the frozen fruit aisle of supermarkets for the healthy frozen version available every season of the year.
A native North American berry, wild blueberries grow naturally in Downeast Maine and Canada. The state of Maine is by far the No. 1 producer in the world, growing more than 90 million pounds in recent years. Sweet and tangy wild blueberries – as opposed to their cultivated counterpart – have been found to have a higher level of antioxidants than most other fruits by USDA research findings and by such respected publications as the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, having long been prized for their nutritional properties. The delicious, pearl-sized berries may help boost immune systems and help guard against cell damage associated with cancer, heart disease, damage from stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and the effects of aging for both men and women.
The recent Health article on America’s Healthiest Superfoods further builds on wild blueberries’ stellar reputation in the health and flavor arena. The magazine reports that when Cornell University scientists recently devised a new method of testing the antioxidant activity in foods, wild blueberries scored the highest marks.
“This is impressive. Wild blueberries have become a bona fide icon for healthy foods, plain and simple,” says Dr. Steven Pratt, senior staff ophthalmologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, world-renowned nutrition authority, and author of the best-selling SuperFoods Rx series of books.
“Of particular interest has been watching the rise of frozen wild blueberries, where the frozen version of the fruit is every bit as nutritious as the fresh off the field.”
Pratt’s observation helps explain why nutrient-rich, frozen wild blueberries are changing how many shoppers are beginning to view the frozen food aisle in their local supermarkets.
Nutrition Advisor Susan Davis, MS, RD, agrees. “Wild blueberries really are leading the charge in the frozen fruit aisle,” she said. “For starters, you’ve got all of the antioxidant-rich nutritional properties remaining intact when fresh wild blueberries are flash-frozen. But add to that the unique fact that wild blueberries perfectly retain their structural integrity and sweet flavor when frozen, and health-conscious shoppers who want wild blueberries year round are presented with a ‘home run’ fruit.
“This is an especially valuable dynamic when you consider that the majority of Americans still aren’t eating the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables,” Davis says. “Frozen wild blueberries can really help people reach the next healthy-eating level, and that’s a promising development.”
A growing number of headlines over the past few years have drawn attention to the many benefits of wild blueberries’ high antioxidant value. One such national example is AARP The Magazine’s “Healing Foods” feature, which reported that when Tufts University researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging reviewed disease-fighting antioxidant activity of 40 fruits and vegetables, wild blueberries beat the pack by a wide margin. Study results indicated that the benefits of eating just one serving of wild blueberries equaled those of eating two to three servings of other fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, apples, and broccoli. A wide range of news outlets ranging from CBS News and Yahoo! Health to The New York Times Magazine similarly have promoted the natural fruit’s benefits and growing appeal.
“Wild blueberries are viewed as a superfood for a reason, and more and more Americans are coming to realize that,” Pratt says. “It’s interesting that this very different sort of fruit can provide so many real benefits to such a wide range of people interested in healthy options – whether aging Americans, younger couples, or their kids – but can go about doing so in such a simple, delicious and convenient way.”
The Wild Blueberry Association of North America sees the inherent nutrition and convenience value of frozen wild blueberries, as well, and is aligned with the Produce for Better Health Foundation in support of its “Fruits and Veggies More Matters” campaign. The campaign seeks to educate Americans that all forms of fruits and veggies – frozen, fresh, canned and dried – count toward meeting daily fruit and vegetable consumption goals.
The Wild Blueberry Association of North America is a trade association of growers and processors of wild blueberries from Maine and Canada, dedicated to bringing the wild blueberry health story and unique wild advantages to consumers and the trade worldwide. To learn more about wild blueberries, visit the website.
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