I love adding blueberries to baked goods! It makes them so much more interesting and nutritious without adding sugars or calories!
Blueberries add flavor, texture and a slew of antioxidants to any baked product. Antioxidants consist of a group of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that help bind up harmful metabolic by-products called free radicals that can lead to tissue and DNA damage, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other age-related diseases.
Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that are formed from normal metabolic functions in the body and also when our cells are exposed to a variety of substances such as radiation, chemicals, pollution, smoke, drugs, alcohol, pesticides and the sun.
A poor diet also contributes to the formation of free radicals. Anthocyanin (the pigment that makes blueberries blue) contains naturally occurring plant chemicals called polyphenols which have very high antioxidant characteristics.
The darker, deeper blue fruits have the highest anthocyanin values, thereby supplying the most potent antioxidant sources.
The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston has developed an assay called ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), which rates the antioxidant capacity of foods. Fresh blueberries have a high level of ORAC, at 2400 per 100 grams.
Researchers have found that blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 common fresh fruits and vegetables.
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