Picture sky-blue tights and cape, leaf-green spandex shorts, and the emblem of a five-pointed, chartreuse star decorating a deep blue-violet shirt. And youâ€™d have the perfect uniform for the latest member of the Superfoods Squad, the unassuming blueberry.
Itâ€™s not that weâ€™ve exactly ignored blueberries, like Lois Laneâ€“if only she had knownâ€“ignored Clark Kent and his all-concealing spectacles for her favorite blue-and-scarlet clad superhero.
Blueberries, in fact, have been given their own month in the U.S. The United States Department of Agriculture, on May 8, 1999, declared that July would be National Blueberry Month. Then-Secretary-of-Agriculture Dan Glickman encouraged all Americans â€śto recognize and celebrate the highbush blueberry with appropriate ceremonies and activities. â€ś
Even before they were commercially cultivated in Americaâ€“in fact, even before America was called Americaâ€“blueberries were one of the staple nutritional and medicinal components of the Native American diet.
Legend has it the Native American tribes of New England and the Atlantic seaboard were already aware of blueberriesâ€™ potential, calling them â€śStar Berriesâ€ť both for the perfectly-shaped five-point star formed at the blossom end of each ripening berry, and for the year-around sustenance they provided as fresh and dried fruit..
The Native Americans were very familiar with blueberriesâ€™ health benefits. They brewed an astringent from the roots of the highbush blueberry, and a tea to treat bowel conditions, or to use as a blood tonic. They gave the blueberry-based tonic to women as a relaxant during childbirth, and used its juice as a cough medicine.
But, even though the American colonists witnessed all of these uses, blueberries remained a wild fruit until the 20th century, when they began to be cultivated, not for their health potential, but for their flavor. Thanks to the work of Dr. Frederick Coville and Elizabeth White in the early 1900â€™s, the Native Americanâ€™s wild highbush blueberries were transformed into the plump, tender, juicy, and easily gathered fruit which stocks produce shelves today.
Blueberries soon became synonymous with summer, showing up in pancakes, muffins, shortcakes, pies, and even ice cream. But it wasnâ€™t until the 1990s that research began to reveal the wisdom of the Native Americans by uncovering the amazing nutritional potency of these tiny blue-violet botanical jewels.
Blueberries have the highest anti-oxidant content, pound for pound, of any fresh fruit or vegetable yet known. Antioxidantsâ€“Vitamins C, A, and E, and beta-caroteneâ€“are powerful agents in fighting the free radicals which can lead to cancer and age-related infirmities.
Blueberries are also rich in the essential minerals magnesium, potassium, and manganese; a terrific source of fiber; and have very little sodium, saturated fat, or cholesterol.
The superfood blueberry not only has the goods; it delivers them. Blueberry nutrients actually cross the blood-brain barrier in amounts sufficient to be effective. And a study from the University of Barcelona indicates that blueberries may lower cholesterol, combat urinary tract infections, and improve both eye and cardiovascular health.
This year, when National Blueberry Month arrives, the newly-recognized Superfood Superstar blueberry should get a heroâ€™s ovation!
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Sam Serio is a true blue devotee of the blueberry and a life long student of health and nutrition. Sam Serio is also the producer of the Annual Chincoteague Blueberry Festival which is held the third weekend of July on the beautiful island of Chincoteague in Virginia. This midsummer celebration of natureâ€™s tastiest and most healthy gift – the Blueberry is combined with a â€śChristmas in Julyâ€ť Craft Shopping Extravaganza the premier Fine Art and Craft event on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. For more information, please visit http://www.ChincoteagueBlueberryFestival.com and pick up your free e-book entitled â€śA Healthy Taste for Blueberriesâ€ť. This free special report reveals everything you ever wanted to know about blueberries, but were afraid to ask. Also includes recipes, beauty secrets, health benefits and much more. Get yours now at http://www.ChincoteagueBlueberryFestival.com.