This is the season for blueberries!

Blueberries are the common name for the group of flowering plants in the genus Vaccinium. In North America, V. corymbosum (aka Northern Highbush Blueberry) is the most common cultivated species. Here in New England, there are two types of blueberries that are traditionally grown. One is highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), the other is lowbush blueberry (V. angustifolium, V. myrtilloides). Blueberries are both cultivated and also picked in the wild. Other types of berries that are related to blueberries are cranberries, bilberries, and cowberries. Some are native to Europe. These berries are also known for having important health benefits.

Blueberries are eaten fresh, used in jellies, jams, and pies. They are baked into muffins and are an ingredient in many other snacks and delicacies, and they are also made into juice. As the population ages and start looking for foods that might give them an edge, berries have gained attention and blueberries have become increasingly popular, annual U.S. consumption of fresh blueberries rose by three times in ten years. This gain in attention is likely due to the increased recognition of the potential human health benefits of regular blueberry consumption. Blueberries still lag bananas, apples, and strawberries however.

Blueberries have phytochemicals, commonly referred to as phytonutrients, are naturally occurring non-nutritive (not required in the diet like nutrients) constituents of fruits and vegetables. They are said to be bioactive and are considered to have a beneficial effect on human health.

The health benefits of blueberries are believed to be due to the diverse range of phytochemicals contained within them, giving rise to the following biological properties:

· Antioxidant
· Anticancer
· Anti-neurodegerative
· Anti-inflammatory

So let’s have some blueberries, whether fresh, in jams, jellies or pies. Enjoy!

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