To Fruit or Not To Fruit That Is the Question

Posted May 14th, 2010 in Healthy Tips, News in Produce

Could eating blueberries help get rid of belly fat? And could a blueberry-enriched diet stem the conditions that lead to diabetes? A new University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study suggests so. Science Daily (Apr. 20, 2009) this new research, lends credence to the potential of blueberries in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. The effect is thought to be due to the high level of phytochemicals–-naturally occurring antioxidants-–that blueberries contain. In addition, scientists are reporting the first evidence from human research that blueberries–one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants and other so-called phytochemicals–improve memory. Earlier scientists in Arkansas reported new evidence that natural pigments responsible for the beautiful blue/purple/reddish color of certain fruits and vegetables such as blueberries may help prevent obesity.

All this research began with the first study published in Prevention magazine in 1999 and the sales of blueberries have grown steadily ever since. More and more research indicates that it really doesn’t matter what form you find your fruit–fresh, canned, frozen, juice, dried–just consume more fruit. But each variety does have its pros and cons. Fresh berries, for example, when purchased off season come from the southern hemisphere. They have to travel a long distance to reach your grocery store. Because they are delicate, they are picked under ripe in order to make the trek without spoiling. Often we pay $6.99 for 4 oz of blueberries in December only to find the fruit hard and inedible.

Of course, nothing is better than a fresh, sweet northwestern blueberry in June. In season, fresh and local is by far the best of all possible choices especially tossed in a salad or eaten by the handful. So what do you do when you have a craving for blueberries in December or a recipe that you want to try and the blueberries in the produce department are too expensive or not at their prime?  Well you have quite a few options. If you are making a smoothie, frozen IQF (individually quick frozen) fruit might be your best bet. It can be kept on hand for when you need it and the frozen fruit helps to thicken the smoothie.

For a pancake recipe there is no better choice than canned. The drained blueberries work perfectly in the batter and the juice makes fantastic syrup with just a bit of cornstarch whisked in to thicken it.

You might think that dried fruit is a healthful choice. After all it is found in trail mix and granola–foods we expect to be good for us. But most dried fruit is loaded with sugar and additives. It is also very high calorie because the water is removed and the dense fruit solids remain leaving a concentration of natural fruit and added sugars. However it is highly portable so it is a good choice for a snack on the go.

Of course, as the Queen, it is my hope that you make my recipes using canned Oregon Berries but because I like you, I just want you to eat more fruit for the health of it.

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