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Grace and Peace,
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I'm a 54 year old Husband, Father of Four Daughters, Pastor and Vice Principal of a private K-12 school on Long Island.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Super Foods...Blueberries

There is a new buzzword out these days in the field of nutrition called "Super Foods". So what are some "Super Foods" and what makes them so super? That will be my topic for the next few days. While I do not believe that any one food or nutrient or one piece of exercise equipment is sufficient for total health. Optimal health is a product of a combination of disciplines. A good, wholesome Diet filled with Live Raw Whole Foods and lean sources of protein, Exercise at least 6 days for a half hour a day, enough Rest and proper Hydration.

However, there are some foods that pack a "special" nutritional punch and deserve extra attention. One of those foods are blueberries. The blueberry of the genus Vaccinium is a native American species. In fact the blueberry is one of the few fruits native to North America. The Northeast Native American tribes revered blueberries and much folklore developed around them. The blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star; the elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to relieve the children's hunger during a famine. Parts of the blueberry plant were also used as medicine. A tea made from the leaves of the plant was thought to be good for the blood. Blueberry juice was used to treat coughs. The juice also made an excellent dye for baskets and cloth. In food preparation, dried blueberries were added to stews, soups and meats. The dried berries were also crushed into a powder and rubbed into meat for flavor. Blueberries were also used for medicinal purposes along with the leaves and roots.

Antioxidants are thought to help protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals and the chronic diseases associated with the aging process. Fresh fruits, including blueberries, and vegetables contain many of these naturally occurring antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E. Blueberries contain 14 mg of Vitamin C and 0.8 mg Vitamin E per 1 cup of blueberries. In addition, blueberries contain anthocyanins and phenolics that can also act as antioxidants. Based on data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (Boston, MA), blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity with a very high ORAC value.

We eat different colors of vegetables and fruit because the colors of the fruits and vegetables determine the healthiness of the various foods. Blueberries, for example, are dark in color and are filled with nutrients—almost more than any other food. Blueberries are felt to have anti-cancer properties, powerful antioxidant properties and might actually prevent cancers from occurring in the first place.

While blueberries are thought to possibly help prevent cancer, they are also being researched for other health benefits. One of those health benefits found is in the area of brain protection and the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of memory loss. One other benefit is that of enhancing the function of the urinary system. This versatile berry has also been studied to see if it can help set back the aging process.

So, while there is no "wonder food" that will solve all of our health challenges. The blueberry can certainly be classified as a "Super Food". One of many that we should ingest daily.

Grace and Peace,

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