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Monday, 28 February 2011 10:48

Picking Blueberries

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If there was ever a fruit to stand the test of trends, blueberries could be considered a perennial classic. Most of us will have a story about picking blueberries in the field with friends or digging into a piece of homemade pie. Since the time of the early American settlers, blueberries have played a part in summer memories and comfort food. Plus, year after year, a super fruit is chosen from the crop as the new must-have in nutrition and skin care, but the wholesome blueberry always retains its ‘it-berry’ status. No doubt this is due to the fact that the petit sweet fruits, genus Vaccinium, family Ericaceae, are proven to be one of the most active sources of antioxidants you can find in nature.
Antioxidants are the first defense in fighting against free radicals. Acting like sponges, they absorb and neutralize the damaging unstable molecules which are linked to the development of a number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's. Plus, free radicals are thought to be one of the most significant causes of the visible signs of aging. Blueberries can help you find the fountain of youth. They are extremely high in phytonutrients, plant-based antioxidants, and nutrients found in pigments that fight against free radicals. The active ingredients in blueberries are anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that give them their luscious deep blue hue. Plus, they are a rich source of vitamin C and E which are natural antioxidants. To further fight cell damage blueberries also contain ellagic acid, another plant chemical responsible for fighting free radicals. According to the USDA database of the antioxidant activity of over 100 selected foods (ORAC values), blueberries rank among the highest on a per serving basis.
The list of nutritional benefits in a serving of blueberries on your granola in the morning, or, yes, even baked into a pie, is lengthy. Packed with so much vitamin C, blueberries provide almost 25 percent of your daily requirement. Vitamin C is needed for the formation of collagen, aids in iron absorption, and promotes a healthy immune system. Blueberries are also a great source of dietary fiber which aids in digestion and contributes to heart health. We can also thank them for providing manganese which plays an important role in the development of bones and metabolizing carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Blueberries have a long history of traditional therapeutic use in Europe and in aboriginal cultures in North America, for their physiological and cosmetic benefits – including their anti-inflammatory properties. With all these active components, it is no wonder the little blueberry is such a powerhouse. Just imagine what one serving of blueberries could do for your skin.
In skin care, the active antioxidant properties and nutritional benefits of blueberries can offer a visible difference. Phytonutrients stabilize the collagen matrix while preventing free radical damage which combats the signs of aging and helps to smooth and firm the skin. Vitamin C is important for building and maintaining that collagen matrix which is key to the skin’s youthful appearance and glow. Incorporating this super fruit into your diet and the skin care products you use is bound to offer a double whammy antioxidant effect, from the inside out.
So be sure to add a few berries to your breakfast routine and your skin care regimen. The blueberry never goes out of style.

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