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The Benefits of Blueberries

ritau
05-08
Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with blue or purple berries. They are classified in the section Cyanococcus within the genus Vaccinium. Vaccinium also includes cranberries, bilberries, huckleberries and Madeira blueberries.[1] Commercial blueberries—both wild (lowbush) and cultivated (highbush)—are all native to North America. The highbush varieties were introduced into Europe during the 1930s.

Blueberries are usually prostrate shrubs that can vary in size from 10 centimeters (3.9 in) to 4 meters (13 ft) in height. In commercial production of blueberries, the species with small, pea-size berries growing on low-level bushes are known as "lowbush blueberries" (synonymous with "wild"), while the species with larger berries growing on taller cultivated bushes are known as "highbush blueberries". Canada is the leading producer of lowbush blueberries, while the United States produces some 40% of the world supply of highbush blueberries.



The genus Vaccinium has a mostly circumpolar distribution, with species mainly present in North America, Europe, and Asia. Many commercially sold species with English common names including "blueberry" are from North America, particularly Atlantic Canada and Northeastern United States for wild (lowbush) blueberries, and several US states and British Columbia for cultivated (highbush) blueberries. Canada's First Nations people consumed wild blueberries for centuries before North America was colonized. Highbush blueberries were first cultivated in New Jersey around the beginning of the 20th century.

North American native species of blueberries are grown commercially in the Southern Hemisphere in Australia, New Zealand and South American nations. Several other wild shrubs of the genus Vaccinium also produce commonly eaten blue berries, such as the predominantly European Vaccinium myrtillus and other bilberries, which in many languages have a name that translates to "blueberry" in English.

*Nutrients
Blueberries consist of 14% carbohydrates, 0.7% protein, 0.3% fat and 84% water (table). They contain only negligible amounts of micronutrients, with moderate levels (relative to respective Daily Values) (DV) of the essential dietary mineral manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fiber (table). Generally, nutrient contents of blueberries are a low percentage of the DV (table). One serving provides a relatively low caloric value of 57 kcal with a glycemic load of 6.

*Phytochemicals and research
Blueberries contain anthocyanins, other polyphenols and various phytochemicals under preliminary research for their potential role in the human body. Most polyphenol studies have been conducted using the highbush cultivar of blueberries (V. corymbosum), while content of polyphenols and anthocyanins in lowbush (wild) blueberries (V. angustifolium) exceeds values found in highbush cultivars.
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