Blueberries are flowering plants in the genus Vaccinium, sect. Cyanococcus.
The fruit is a berry 5-16 mm diameter with a flared "crown" at the end; they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally indigo on ripening. They have a sweet taste when mature, with variable acidity. Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit from May through October; "blueberry season" peaks in July, which is National Blueberry Month in the United States and Canada.
Blueberries, especially wild species, contain anthocyanins, other antioxidant pigments and other phytochemicals which may have a role in reducing the risks of some diseases, including cancers.
Researchers have shown that blueberry anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols and tannins inhibit mechanisms of cancer cell development in vitro. At a 2007 symposium on berry health benefits were reports showing consumption of blueberries (and similar fruits including cranberries) may alleviate the cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer's Disease and other conditions of aging.
Feeding blueberries to animals lowers stroke damage. Research at Rutgers has also shown that blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections. Other animal studies found that blueberry consumption lowered cholesterol and total blood lipid levels, possibly affecting symptoms of heart disease. Additional research showed that blueberry consumption in rats altered glycosaminoglycans, vascular cell components that can influence control of blood pressure.
Most of these studies were conducted using highbush, hybrid cultivars of blueberries. Content of polyphenol antioxidants and anthocyanins in lowbush blueberries exceeds the values found in highbush blueberries.
140 grams of fresh blueberries contain 3 g of fiber. Additionally blueberries are high in manganese as well as vitamin K and have a low glycemic load per single 155 g serving.
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