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Blueberries and heart health

Michigan's blueberries are bursting with flavor

blueberries blogBlueberries are in season in Michigan, so now is a great time to indulge. Whether you take a trip to Southeast Michigan (where a majority of the state’s blueberries are grown), visit your local farmers market or pick up a basket at your neighborhood grocery store, you’ll be doing your tastebuds — and your heart — a favor.

Color me healthy

Blueberries contain high amounts of brightly colored pigments called anthocyanins, which deliver a number of benefits for heart health. While other berries such as strawberries and cranberries contain anthocyanins as well, blueberries contain an especially high amount. These powerhouse pigments may help to reduce blood pressure, lower “bad” cholesterol and keep arteries healthy. Eating berries has even been shown to decrease the risk of death from heart disease.

Lose the (oxidative) stress

Cell damage from oxidative stress can lead to a number of conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. Anthocyanins function as strong antioxidants; they can protect against damage to cells and DNA. The antioxidant compounds found in blueberries lower inflammation and decrease oxidative stress — both of which help to protect heart health.

The whole package

Why not just pop a pill to get your daily dose of anthocyanins? Well, blueberries offer a number of benefits apart from that one compound. They are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in a number of vitamins and minerals. Plus, different components found in blueberries may work in concert to help the body absorb and utilize all of the berry’s heart-healthy components.

Try this tasty recipe

Reap the benefits of blueberries with this heart-healthy recipe.

Blueberry Apple Walnut Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 large apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Whisk the brown sugar, flour, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add apples and blueberries; toss to coat. Place mixture in an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.
  3. For the topping, combine the walnuts, oats, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, flaxseed, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add the canola oil and mix well.
  4. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown. If topping begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

Take the next step:


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.