What’s the best thing to put in a blueberry pie? Your teeth!
The Potent Powerhouse
All jokes aside, blueberries are a potent powerhouse that contain different nutrients your body needs. Did you know that one cup contains only 84 calories and 15g of carbohydrates? Comprised of approximately 85% water, blueberries are high in fibre (4g per 1 cup. They contain 24% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, 36% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K or Potassium, and 25% of the daily recommended intake of Manganese.
Not only are blueberries a nutrient powerhouse, but they also contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all popular fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants, like those found in blueberries, protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases such as cancer. The main antioxidant compounds found in blueberries belong to a family of polyphenols antioxidants called flavonoids. One group of flavonoids in particular—anthocyanins—are thought to be responsible for much of these berries’ beneficial health effects. So, eat your blueberries as they’ve been shown to directly increase the levels of antioxidants in your body!
The Danger of Free Radicals
But how does that work? Free radicals are unbalanced and unstable on a molecular level. They can damage your cells through oxidization as they look for a way to gain stability. Essentially, they’re looking to pair their lonely electrons and will actively seek out other molecules in your body to react with. Majority of the time, these reactions aren’t good and over time they can contribute to many of the signs of normal aging. More importantly, there are substantive links to degenerative processes like Alzheimer’s and other dementias, cancer, and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. In short, when free radicals are left to their own devices, they’ll make all the bad choices they shouldn’t be making.
Antioxidants to the Rescue!
Antioxidants are the good choice that free radicals should be making. They’re able to donate an electron to the free radical without being reduced to a free radical themselves. Oxidative damage is an unavoidable part of everyday life and can occur tens of thousands of times per day in every cell in your body. Nevertheless, adding in antioxidants into your diet is a great way to counteract some of the damage that can occur. If eating blueberries could help prevent a few wrinkles, or even better, help to stave off a degenerative disease, why not?
Other Health Benefits of Blueberries
While the idea of free radicals can be scary and sobering, blueberries are full of other health benefits as well:
- They protect cholesterol in your blood from becoming damaged
- They could lower blood pressure
- Eating blueberries may help prevent heart disease
- Blueberries can help maintain brain function and improve memory
- The anthocyanins in blueberries may have anti-diabetes effects
- Blueberries may help fight urinary tract infections
- Blueberries may reduce muscle damage after strenuous exercise
The Bottom Line
Blueberries are incredibly healthy and nutritious. They boost your heart health, brain function and numerous other aspects of your body. What’s more, they’re sweet, colorful and easily enjoyed either fresh or frozen. And here’s a recipe just for fun!
Blueberry and Cream French Toast Bake
Maple Brown Sugar Drizzle:
- 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
French Toast Bake:
- 1 cup 10% cream or whole milk
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 8 cups cubed day-old egg bread or Italian loaf
- 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
- Whipped cream (optional)
Maple Sugar Drizzle:
- Stir brown sugar with maple syrup, butter and cinnamon until combined.
French Toast Bake:
- Grease an 8 x 8-inch square glass baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk cream with eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Stir in 1 cup blueberries.
- Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, or until mixture is absorbed.
- Preheat oven 350°F. Top evenly with Maple Sugar Drizzle. Bake, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes or until fluffy and golden.
- Serve with remaining blueberries and whipped cream if desired.
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