In early America, Native Americans traded “star berries” to colonists who believed them to be some form of bilberry, a fruit found in the United Kingdom. While similar and likely related, blueberries are native to North America. Blueberries, with the highest anti-oxidant content of all fresh fruits, are an excellent nutritional choice in your diet. Heart healthy, vision aid, memory aid, cancer preventative (consumption of blueberries has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer and ovarian cancer), anti-depressant, and anti-aging agent—blueberries may very well be that fountain of youth so sought by Ponce de Leon! Blueberries can aid in the prevention of cell-damage, lower cholesterol and reduce body fat, reduce digestive inflammation and prevent infection.
It was said during World War II that RAF pilots consumed bilberry jam to improve their night vision. While this has since been proved to be false—a story created by the Brits to confuse their enemies when radar was first used—it was plausible because consumption of bilberries, as well as our native blueberries, can prevent or delay age related ocular problems such as macular degeneration, cataracts, myopia and dryness and infections, especially those pertaining to the retina.
While claims of improved night vision have been made, we could find nothing to support this. Even so, blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse that should not be ignored. Eat these tasty treats fresh or straight out of the freezer, add them to cereals or pancakes, or try any number of recipes found on the net. Remember, the darker the berry, the more antioxidant and other nutritional value.
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole lemon verbena leaves or lemon balm (optional)
1 pound frozen blueberries
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon-flavored rum (optional)
Process sugar and lemon verbena in food processor or blender for about 30 seconds. Add blueberries and process an additional minute. Add lemon juice and rum: process until smooth. Serve immediately or freeze in a covered freezer container. Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving: 209 calories; 0.4 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 2 percent calories from fat); 50 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 7 mg sodium; 0.9 g protein; 2.9 g fiber.
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