Been known to gorge on blueberries in late summer and early fall, when they're abundant and in season? Go ahead! Even in the world of fruits and berries, which is loaded with health-boosting, age-fighting nutrition stars, blueberries are a supernova. They're linked not only to skin, heart, eye, and urinary health but also to a lower risk of cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
So how much should you be eating to reap the protective health benefits? About 1 to 2 cups a day says Steven G. Pratt, MD, author of the new book SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health.
First off, you may be thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of blueberries, even in August!" Second, if they're not in season, you're wondering how on earth you're going to eat a cup or more a day. Here's how:
Stock your freezer. There's evidence that frozen blueberries provide the same benefits of fresh, says Dr. Pratt. The big tip-off? A European study found that men who ate frozen berries daily had as much as 50% more quercetin, a particularly powerful anticancer antioxidant, in their blood than did men who abstained from eating berries.
When fresh blueberries are so last season, here are a few suggestions from Pratt and others on how to use frozen ones to get that "cup a day":
• Put a cup of frozen berries in the fridge in the evening to defrost; in the morning, sprinkle them over cereal or stir them into yogurt. Forgot to defrost? Throw those chilly berries in the blender, and whip up a quick all-fruit smoothie.
• Boost the fiber and nutrients in your baked goods by tossing a handful into muffin or quick-bread batter. Just add 5 to 15 minutes to the baking time to compensate for their chilling effect.
• Float a few in a glass of cold club soda or lemonade as festive, edible ice cubes. (Kids will get a kick out of this.)
• Eat them plain, like tiny popsicles. (Another kid pleaser.)
• Add them to a salad of winter fruit about 15 minutes before serving.Eating fistfuls of blueberries every day is certainly no risk to your weight. You're only looking at 79 calories a cup.