Did you even know there were two types of blueberries?! I’m
ahem-years-old, and I had no clue until recently.
CLIFF’S NOTES: The smaller compact “wild” lowbush blueberries grow closer to the ground and spread by rhizomes, and the larger cultivated highbush blueberries grow on bushes.
The backstory that might help explain my tardy arrival at all things blueberry: I do not like cultivated blueberries, no matter how hard I try. About once a year I decide that if I just try them again, I’ll love them.
I try like hell, people.
I remind myself they’re antioxidant powerhouses, they’re nutrient-dense, low in calories and high in nature’s goodness. But, the minute I bite down on one, I scrunch my nose and spit it out. They’re bitter and kinda flaky and just too weird for me to stomach.
Yet, I continued to buy them (because of their powerhousey ways) and throw ’em in smoothies. I didn’t like it, but I considered it important enough to include them in my diet.
A Costco run last week changed my mindset about blueberries.
There I was, getting what we needed, not thinking anything odd about the bag of frozen blueberries I tossed in my cart, other than the new package design, and oh hey, they were organic and a bit higher priced than I was used to paying. Meh. We needed them, so in the cart they went.
As soon as I got home, in the freezer they went and I didn’t think about them again until I was making a smoothie and begrudgingly thought to add a few blueberries.
While the blender was blending, I absentmindedly popped a few wild berries into my mouth, hoping against all things hoped, that today! I would love them…and. I. did.
What the heck?!
I did a Scooby-Do double take. I looked at the bag, then looked at the berries, then looked back at the bag and finally my brain kicked in: something’s different here, Patti.
The berries were much smaller and bluer (was that possible?). I popped a few more in my mouth. Yep, good! Sweet, with no hint of the bitterness or weirdo flakiness of the cultivated kind.
It was then I carefully examined the bag and realized the berries I fell instantly in love with were of the wild variety. Whoa. Just like me…wild and sweet.
As soon as I was done smoothie makin’, I Googled blueberries, wild blueberries specifically, and my former hate of all things blueberry, gave way to the love of the wild.
Not only are they sweeter, wild blueberries pack an even harder nutritional punch than their cultivated counterpart, as they contain more of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin and demonstrate greater antioxidant capacity per serving than cultivated blueberries. Laboratory studies show that wild blueberries are a leading antioxidant fruit.
Regular blueberries are great too, if that’s all that is available.
Blueberries are packed with nutritional power. The pigments (anthocyanins) that make them blue are potent antioxidants. The berries are also a healthy low glycemic-index carbohydrate, a good source of vitamin C and fiber (two grams per one-half cup serving) and of ellagic acid, a natural compound that inhibits tumor growth in laboratory mice. Like cranberries, blueberries contain a substance that can help prevent urinary tract infections by interfering with the attachment of bacteria to the bladder wall.
Fruit that tastes like candy and can combat disease? I’m in! And you should be too.
If you’re interested in the lowdown nitty gritty nutritional facts of wild blueberries: CLICK HERE. All the info you can stand!
The one eye-popping bit of nutrition that caught my eye, as a woman with an eye on bone health, 1/2 cup of wild blueberries has 100% the daily recommended amount of manganese, which is vital for bone development.
Finally, the cherry on top of this nutritional good news, is that wild blueberries are available year round frozen. HUZZAH!
CAVEAT: Buy organic blueberries whenever you can. Yes, they are more expensive, but conventionally grown blueberries have a high pesticide load. OMT, no likey!
So tell me: Did you know there was a difference? DID YA?!
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