DNC News


Outside of Colorado, it's blueberry season. I can tell, because King Soopers has them as a loss leader this week at $1.49 a pint. Plump berries trucked in from Oregon, Michigan, and Maine. Sure this is more expensive than the 22 cents a pound I used to pay for the organic u-pick berries that filled our freezer in Portland, but I can live with it. Twenty bucks still buys a pile of berries. Blueberries freeze well, buy enough to last the winter. They make great smoothies, and the best pies.

As you've come to expect from these articles, the next question is what's so healthy about them? I've just done a quick abstract review under the heading "blueberry" over at the National Library of Medicine while my pies are cooling, so let's see what they say. But a quick diversion first. The National Library of Medicine and their search engines PubMed and Medline are online and free to use. I can never remember their address, so I go to Medherb.com (which I can remember) and click on their Medical Journal Links page or go to my webpage at denvernaturopathic.com and click on "related sites" and scroll down to the appropriate link. Type in "blueberry" in the box and hit return. There are 70 or so articles that come up initially. Read through the titles and if one sounds relevant or interesting click on the it to read the abstract. Depending on the journal, you may be able to go to the e ntire text of the article. If the article seems to be exactly what you want to read, click on the box "related articles" to see if anything else turns up. Some searches will give you too many listings to do you any good, for example, "Vitamin C." In that case narrow the search down by connecting two topics of interest with "AND" (in capital letters), such as "Blueberry C AND Cancer."

Patients have told me that their memories have improved after taking blueberry extracts to improve their eyesight. Blueberries contain chemicals which protect the brain neurons from oxidative damage [1] , preventing [2] and reversing [3] some of the brain damage asociated with aging. Blueberry leaves lower blood sugar levels in diabetics by about 26% and triglyceride levels by almost 40%.[4] Bluberries have an anti inflamatory effect and produce long lasting protection [5] for the capillaries [6] . Extracts have been shown to prevent carcinogenic chemicals from causing cancer.[7] Here's an odd little tidbit. Blueberry juice makes a decent contrast medium for MRIs of the GI tract especially the pancreas.[8]

Served frozen blueberries are a fun snack for children.

Whizzed in a blender or food processor with a little honey and yogurt they make almost instant frozen yogurt. Don't add frozen blueberries to pancake batter though. You'll end up with raw batter. Thaw them for a few minutes in tap water before adding them. Same with muffins.

Blueberry Pie
3 cups flour
2 sticks butter
1/2 tsp salt
ice water to form dough

4 pints blueberries
1-2 cups sweetener
1/3 cup flour a bit of butter
dash of cinnamon
squeeze of lemon juice (makes two deep dish pies)

1. Cao G, Shukitt-Hale B, Bickford PC, Joseph JA, McEwen J, Prior RL . Hyperoxia-induced changes in antioxidant capacity and the effect of dietary antioxidants. J Appl Physiol 1999 Jun;86(6):1817-22
2. Cao G, Joseph JA, Denisova N, Fisher D, Shukitt-Hale B, Bickford P, Prior R, Membrane and receptor modifications of oxidative stress vulnerability in aging. Nutritional considerations. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1998 Nov 20;854:268-76
3. Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, Bielinski D, Martin A, McEwen JJ, Bickford PC Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8114-21.
4. Cignarella A, Nastasi M, Cavalli E, Puglisi L . Novel lipid-lowering properties of Vaccinium myrtillus L.leaves, a traditional antidiabetic treatment, in several models of rat dyslipidaemia: a comparison with ciprofibrate. Thromb Res 1996 Dec 1;84(5):311-22
5. Lietti A, Forni G. Studies on Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. II. Aspects of anthocyanins pharmacokinetics in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 1976;26(5):832-5
6. Lietti A, Cristoni A, Picci M. Studies on Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. I. Vasoprotective and antiinflammatory activity. Arzneimittelforschung 1976;26(5):829-32
7. Bomser J, Madhavi DL, Singletary K, Smith MA. In vitro anticancer activity of fruit extracts from Vaccinium species. Planta Med 1996 Jun;62(3):212-6
8. Papanikolaou N, Karantanas A, Maris T, Gourtsoyiannis N. MR cholangiopancreatography before and after oral blueberry juice administration. J Comput Assist Tomogr. 2000 Mar-Apr;24(2):229-34.

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