Berries in general, and especially blueberries, have gained a reputation as "superfoods," nutrition powerhouses with multiple positive effects on health. As the New York Times recently reported, an 18-year study confirmed another berry benefit: women who eat blueberries and strawberries regularly lower their risk of a heart attack.
A study which followed women and their eating habits from 1991 through 2009 found that those who ate strawberries and blueberries most often were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack than the women who ate these foods the least. The secret to success is anthocyanin, a flavonoid which has been found to lower blood pressure and help blood vessels work better. Red and blue fruits contain higher concentrations of anthocyanin, and of these, the most frequently eaten are blueberries and strawberries. The women in the study who gained the most benefit ate them at least three times per week.
There once was a time when you could only get berries during a short summer season. However, you have many more options today that make it relatively easy to get these fruits.
Fresh is best, of course. Get berries in season and put them on your breakfast cereal, eat them for dessert, or just snack on a handful when you can. If the crop is especially good and prices are low, buy extra and freeze them in bags or containers, or use a dehydrator to dry them.
During the rest of the year, frozen blueberries, strawberries, and berry mixes are widely available. They work great in smoothies or mixed into waffle or pancake batter. You can also look for dried blueberries at your local food store near the raisins and other dried fruits. Dried blueberries can be used in cooking, mixed into granola or trail mix, or eaten on their own as a snack.
So enjoy your berries, and do your heart a favor at the same time!