Blueberries for Cancer Prevention

Blueberries are not only beautiful and delicious; they are partners in our fight against cancer. Much of the health benefit of blueberries is credited to a group of pigments called Anthocyanidins.

These are responsible for blue, red, pink, mauve and orange colours in fruits and vegetables.  While we don’t know for sure how these work in our bodies, laboratory work has shown that Anthocyanidins added to cancer cells grown in a petri dish will stop cell growth and lead the cell into apoptosis—termination of the cell by itself—like cell suicide.  Work on blueberries also show its components can stop angiogenesis – the creation of new blood supply by the cancer.

Blueberries, Anthocyanidins and the Cancer Cell

In addition to the Anthocyanidin pigments, there are other beneficial nutrients in blueberries—vitamin C and K, the mineral manganese and fiber.

Wild blueberries tend to be higher in plant nutrients (phytonutrients). However, they are not actually ‘wild’—they are cultivated and farmed—but from the lowland bush as opposed to the highland bush.

The best way to enjoy fresh blueberries I think is just like they are, but if you want to jazz them up a little without going too crazy with added sugar and fat try the following recipe from Foodland Ontario:

Pear, Apple and Blueberry Granola Parfait

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ontario Pears, cored and sliced
  • 2 Ontario McIntosh Apples, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Ontario Blueberries
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) granola with raisins
  • 4 parfait glasses

Preparation:

Gently toss together 2 Ontario Pears, cored and sliced, 2 Ontario McIntosh Apples, cored and sliced, and 1/2 cup (125 mL) Ontario Blueberries. Spoon half of fruit mixture into each of the 4 parfait glasses. Top each with 1/4 cup (50 mL) vanilla yogurt and 1 tbsp (15 mL) granola with raisins. Repeat layers.

Freezing Blueberries

Wash blueberries and pat dry and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid and then transfer to freezer bags. When you want to use your frozen blueberries, don’t defrost them; add them frozen to recipes to ensure their blue hue doesn’t bleed.

When blueberry season is over and you need a little flashback to summer then use your frozen blueberries for this recipe:

Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie (from page 298, Refreshing Beverages, of my book, The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook):

Blueberries and green tea are two foods that should rank high on your cancer-fighting menu.

Ingredients:

  • Blender
  • 2 tsp green tea leaves (or 1 bag) (10 mL)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water (125 mL)
  • 1 tbsp liquid honey or agave nectar (15 mL)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (125 mL)
  • 1/2 cup probiotic plain yogurt (125 mL)

Preparation:

  1. In a measuring cup or tea pot, combine green tea and boiling water; let steep for 8 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve (or discard tea bags), without squeezing leaves, into a bowl or container. Stir in honey until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until chilled, or for up to 1 day.
  2. In blender, combine chilled tea, blueberries and yogurt and blend until smooth.

Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

Tip: If you are nauseated or put off by food, try drinking from a cup with a lid and a straw.

 

Resources:

Find a U-Pick Farm near you (U.S.A.): http://www.nabcblues.org/upick.htm

References:

Freezing Blueberries: http://www.ontario.ca/foodland/recipes/freezing-ontario-peaches-and-blueberries

Blueberry Granola Parfait Recipe: http://www.ontario.ca/foodland/recipes/pear-apple-and-blueberry-granola-parfait

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