Really, fake blueberries?

This delightful blueberry fruit of indigo hue and juicy sweetness grows on perennial bushes and are native to North America.  The fruit typically grows throughout the summer, depending on the region.  Blueberries are a most wonderful addition to pies, muffins, cobblers and many, many other fruity desserts as well as in breakfast foods.  Delicious jams and jellies can be made and placed in jars to use at a later date, or the blueberries can be frozen.  They are a great and versatile fruit to keep in the freezer for later when craving that sweet treat.

Other than that delicious taste and versatility, consider their ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value.  This is how well the food protects the body from free radicals when it is eaten.  Blueberries as well other fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals that protect them from pest, fungus and diseases.

When we humans consume these foods, our bodies receive the protection that the plant has already cultivated for itself, and then converts that into antioxidants in fighting against the damaging effect of free radicals.  Eating blueberries not only satisfies cravings for sweet, juicy fruits, but will also provide the immune system with defenses to keep the body function properly and protect us against disease and aging.

If you intend to reap the benefits of consuming blueberries, you need to be sure you are eating REAL blueberries.  Many products on the market profess their products are real blueberries, but when investigated there are actually little to NO blueberries in the products.  Are those blueberry muffins you pick up on the shelf really what you expect, or could they could be an imposter?  The ingredients may be called blueberry bits or blueberry crunchlets, and that really means a combination of unhealthy and artificial ingredients like sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, hydrogenated vegetable oil and artificial flavors and colorings.

They may very well look and taste likeblueberries, but could not be farther on the nutritional spectrum from real blueberries.  Check the ingredients on those packages of cereals, pancake mixes, pop-tarts, etc. to see if this is the case with the product you are considering.

These “fake” blueberries can have ill effects on our health, but companies have loopholes in order to promote their products containing blueberries.  This marketing deception has been going on for years as the food industry has a huge amount of power over policies regarding food, and it’s profitability is the number one priority.  The blueberry is a popular fruit and touted as a “superfood” because of the high antioxidant properties.  This has also increased their cost, but organic companies are paying the higher prices in order to maintain the integrity of their products rather than to use the chemical blueberry imposters.  Many people avoid the organic products because of the additional expense.  There is also the factor that large amounts of sugar and sugar derivatives are in these processed foods and the consumers become addicted to them.

By knowing what ingredients to look for on a label, you can pass on those fake blueberries at the store and reach for the genuine fruit.  Avoid these fake blueberries by opting for the fresh ones and add them to your cereal, oatmeal, muffins and so on by yourself.  Look for those fresh blueberries at your local farmer’s market in the summer and stock up.  Freeze these blueberries to use at a later date to insure you are getting the “genuine” product!

I LOVE blueberries in almost anything, and the blueberry muffins are a must for my family.  I think it might be wise to check those labels on the frozen blueberries too, and be sure they are of the organic variety.  Enjoy these fruits that are high antioxidants while adding that terrific sweet taste to your baking!

–Dr Fredda Branyon