These treasured North American natives do more than add sweetness and dramatic color to recipes. They boast an antioxidant triple threat. Anthocyanins give the berries their vivid blue hue and seem to positively affect a variety of the body's functions, including vision, circulation, and brain activity. Pterostilbene helps keep cholesterol in check, and epicatechins, the curative substances also found in cranberries, promote urinary tract health. Interestingly, in a 2008 study, wild blueberries beat their cultivated cousins as well as two dozen other fruits, including blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, for health-promoting antioxidant activity.
Choose It & Use It
Enjoy blueberries' benefits year-round via frozen and dried versions, which maintain the same antioxidant content as fresh. Smaller, darker, and more intensely flavored than the standard variety, wild blueberries are also available frozen. Look for fresh in August and September and select dark, plump berries with a whitish bloom. Avoid those with pinkish rings at the stem, a sign that they're not quite ripe.