You are here
PORTLAND, Maine -- Aggressive retailers may want to go a little wild with their blueberry displays in the coming weeks on the heels of news that finds wild blueberries topping Health magazine's "hot list" of 20 good-for-you foods.
The list, which appears in the consumer magazine's March issue, is comprised of foods that ranked highest in a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dr. Ronald Prior, who analyzed antioxidant capacity of commonly available fruits and vegetables.
After tabbing the research, wild blueberries were found to have the highest antioxidant capacity per serving, compared with more than 20 other fruits. (Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52:4026-4037, 2004.)
The study showed that a one-cup serving of wild blueberries had higher antioxidant capacity than a serving of other popular fruits such as cranberries, strawberries, prunes, raspberries, and even cultivated blueberries.
According to the magazine, the recent USDA work represents the most comprehensive study of antioxidant capacity using the most advanced technology in this area, known as the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) measure.
In light of their ability to protect against oxidative cell damage that can lead to conditions like Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of blue-purple foods like wild blueberries may have the potential to help prevent these diseases.
"A strong indicator of antioxidant activity is color," said Susan Davis, nutrition advisor to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA), a trade association of growers and processors of wild blueberries from Maine. Davis says anthocyanin, the deep-blue purple pigment in foods like wild blueberries, is a potent phytonutrient that acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
"With the highest antioxidant capacity of all the fruits tested by Dr. Prior," she says, "wild blueberries stand out as an antioxidant powerhouse. A half-cup a day is all you need to satisfy a daily fruit serving and get the important color blue into your diet." When fresh blueberries aren't available, Davis recommends using frozen blueberries in smoothies, cereal, yogurt and even salads. "They're easy, convenient, great tasting and above all, healthy," she adds.
John Sauve, a spokesman for WBANA, says that frozen fruit and vegetables will become "very important" as Americans address the challenge of meeting the new USDA Dietary Guidelines. "Frozen wild blueberries can easily be incorporated into meals and snacks, making them a great choice for anyone looking to improve their diet. Additionally, the FDA has concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and may even retain their nutritional value longer, so consumers shouldn't be concerned with lost nutritional value."