5 Things to Know about Blueberries

Good things come in small packages, especially when it comes to blueberries! These little balls of energy may be small, but they deliver a BIG dose of nutrients. Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, yet contain only 84 calories per serving. Besides being the only food that’s blue, here are more fascinating facts about blueberries:

  1. The health benefits associated with blueberries are thought to be due to the diverse assortment of phytochemicals found in the fruit. Phytochemicals are classified as non-nutritive plant chemicals, which means they aren’t required as part of one’s diet, but they do contain protective or disease preventative properties. Plants actually produce these chemicals to protect themselves. However, recent research shows phytochemicals may also protect humans against the risk of diseases.
  2. The species of blueberry best suited to Texas is the rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei). The humid woodlands of East Texas are best for the commercial growth of blueberries, but the states of Oregon, California, and Washington led the country in cash receipts for blueberries in 2017.
  3. The berries you find in the grocery store grow on bushes that can reach a height of 12 feet tall. Fresh market blueberries are picked mainly by hand. Some berries are gathered with large harvesting machines that move slowly and gently shake the plants so ripe berries fall into a catching frame. Berries that are machine-harvested are typically then washed, frozen and sold year-round.
  4. When buying fresh berries, size is not an indicator of ripeness or maturity, but color is. Look for berries that are deep purple-blue to blue-black. In addition, look for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned. They should also contain a silvery surface bloom, or powder-like coating, with no leaves or stems attached.
  5. Blueberries should be refrigerated as soon as you get them home from the store. Keep them in their original container or in a covered bowl. Before eating, blueberries should be washed. Blueberries, fresh or frozen, are a flavorful and nutritious addition to many different recipes such as juices, smoothies, jellies, pies, muffins, and even main dishes. For healthy and tasty recipes, visit Dinner Tonight!
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