Date Published: 13 July 2018
It's National Blueberry Month in the USA and blueberries are popular everywhere ...
Many supermarkets and farm shops here in England are now offering a tempting array of blueberries, some local, some imported, some organic, some particularly large and juicy. Brief research online confirms an abundance of blueberries elsewhere too, including for example Michigan1 (USA), Pennsylvania2 (USA) and New Jersey3 (USA).
Just in case anyone needs an excuse to indulge in this delicious healthy berry, this month (July) is National Blueberry Month4 in the USA. July has been blueberry month in the USA since 2003 while August is National Blueberry Month in Canada. Native to North America, cultivated ('highbush') blueberries were introduced to Europe in the 1930s, intially to the northern European countries of Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. Today they can be found growing in many parts of northern Europe as well as in greengrocers and supermarkets across the continent. Blueberries are also grown commercially elsewhere in the world including, for example, in Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Argentina.
Blueberries are widely considered extremely healthy due to their nutritional content. One indication of the popularity of blueberries as a 'health food' is the shear volume of internet pages on this subject. A recent Google search using the expression "health benefits of blueberries" yielded 'About 119,000,00 results'5. For example, an article on the health website MedicalNewsToday.com includes information about how blueberries have been considered to support the following aspects of healthy living6.
- Maintaining healthy bones
- Skin health
- Lowering blood pressure
- Managing diabetes
- Protecting against heart disease
- Preventing cancer
- Improving mental health
- Healthy digestion, weight loss, and feeling full
The reasons and explanations offered for the possible benefits of blueberries in these contexts include the benefits of specific nutrients contained in blueberries and many links to detailed research studies such as, for example, a study whose outcome supports the hypothesis that consumption of blueberries is associated with slower cognitive decline in older women7. Although detailed descriptions and justifications for these and the other benefits claimed for blueberries by the many articles online is beyond the scope of this page, the interest in and popularity of blueberries is considerable.
Leaving aside the complexities of medical studies concerned with specific conditions, diseases and/or risks, a simple explanation of why blueberries are healthy can be summarised as follows:
Blueberries are low in calories - i.e. energy content (that some people restrict in order to manage their weight), but high in nutrients.
According to detailed information made available by the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA)8, one cup (148g) of blueberries contains:
- 9 mg Calcium
- 0.084 mg Copper
- 0.41 mg Iron
- 9 mg Magnesium
- 0.5 g Manganese
- 18 mg Phosphorus
- 114 mg Potassium
- 1 mg Sodium
- 0.24 mg Zinc
That's good news, but still merely a list of data.
It's summer. The sun is shining and the fruit flavoursome. For the joy of the taste and texture as well as other benefits, many people are enjoying blueberries while the season lasts.