Blueberry Balance February 27, 2006

It’s 6:00 pm on a Thursday night, the kids are hungry, dinner is ten minutes from blast off and I’m looking for the limbo stick. We pull two chairs back to back, lay the yard-stick across the chair backs and reach for the blueberries. “Okay,” I say, “lean back and keep the blueberry here,” as I delicately balance the blueberry in the natural divot between the bottom of my nose and the top of my mouth and lean back limbo-style. “Ready?!” I yell while staring at the ceiling.

The kids start to chant: “How low can you go! How low can you go!” There is lots of laughing as I fall on my butt and the blueberry almost rolls up my nose. “My turn!” Simone yells reaching for the blueberries. Some like blueberries for their super-rich antioxidant properties, I’m just happy they got us safely through the perilous passage of childhood hunger to the dinner table without anyone gnawing off a limb.

If there was a fruit version of People magazine, blueberries would be at the top of the “it” list (probably on a blue carpet wearing something very simple). Color in fruit relates to certain types of antioxidants that have different functions. Here is how Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking, the science and lore of the kitchen explains it: “Each kind of antioxidant generally protects against a certain kind of molecular damage, or helps regenerate certain other protective molecules. No single molecule can protect against all kinds of damage. Unusually high concentrations of single types can actually tip the balance the wrong way and cause damage. So the best way to reap the full benefits of the antioxidant powers of plants is not to take manufactured supplements of a few prominent chemicals; it is to eat lots of different fruits and vegetables.”

There are three main phytochemicals that I’ve seen listed in association with blueberries. They are anthocyanins which are the antioxidant we read most about in terms of slowing down cellular decay; resveratrol which is said to help prevent heart disease and is also found in red wines and proanthocyanidins which are found in cranberries and may help prevent urinary tract infections. Blueberries have more antioxidants per serving than any other fruit. Plus, one cup of blueberries has only 83 calories, 0.5 grams of fat (1% of RDA), 14% of your daily dietary fiber, and nearly 25% of your daily vitamin C.

Enjoy and be fruitful! – Chris Mittelstaedt

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