Smurf’s Up: The Benefits of Blue Foods
If you grew up watching the Smurfs in action, you’re likely familiar with their lively energy and potion-making, both of which often get these little blue creatures into loads of unforeseeable trouble. With Smurfs 2 roaring into theatres, we felt inspired by their ingenuity, resourcefulness--and bright blue hue--to fuel a few of our own healthy, human tonics and guide some of our eating choices.
Incidentally, naturally-colored blue foods are tremendously good for us. But what exactly are blue foods and how are they healthy? Fruits that are blue and purple, such as blackberries, blueberries, black grape, plums, figs and black currants, contain the Anthocyanin pigment that gives them their blue color. Anthocyanin is also found in red foods such as beets and red cabbage. Foods with this pigment have been deemed by medical researchers as “health heroes” because they offer a wealth of healthful benefits. These foods have been shown to be particularly advantageous in lowering the risk of heart disease and even certain cancers. Laboratory studies show that anthocyanins do everything from reinforce strong eyesight to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Blue and purple foods also prevent memory loss associated with age and help with maintaining good vision and a healthy urinary tract. And if that wasn’t enough, they also ward off bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and gum disease as well.
Blueberries in particular are heralded by the health community as a powerful superfood due to their abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. These tiny blue fruits are known to have more antioxidants than almost any other fruit or vegetable! Blueberry antioxidants have been proven to effectively ward off oxidative cell deterioration which often results in Alzheimer’s, certain cancers and heart disease. In fact, the pluses of consuming blueberries are so numerous that researchers advocate consuming blueberries on a daily basis.
So how should you get your fix of these nutritious blue foods? Here are some helpful tips:
- Do you eat oatmeal in the mornings? Pile a handful of blueberries or blackberries to your morning cereal! It’s an easy way to work some antioxidants into your diet.
- If you love grapes, go for purple (or red) grapes over green grapes.
- Have a sweet tooth? For a healthy, natural sugar rush, opt for raisins and dried (or whole) blueberries instead of artificial candies.
- It’s hard to give up baked goods like muffins and cakes but you can fortify your favorite baked goods by making them at home. Add blueberries to muffins or raisins to cookies for a boost in fiber, natural sugar and antioxidants.
- Want to cool down on a hot day? Freeze red grapes for a burst of ice cold, fruit flavor when you need some relief from the heat.
- Smoothies are a fast, easy and delicious way to get not only some blue nutritional value, but red and yellow too. They’re low calorie and filling enough to hold you over until lunch time. Follow the following smoothie recipes to meet your recommended daily fruit intake:
- Pomegranate Berry Smoothie: Blend 2 cups mixed berries, 1 cup pomegranate juice, 1 banana, 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese and ½ cup water.
- Blueberry Banana Soy Smoothie: Blend 1 ¼ cups light soy milk, ½ cup frozen loose-pack blueberries, ½ sliced frozen banana, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Berry Simple Smoothie: Blend 1 cup fresh, thawed blueberries, 8 oz. vanilla yogurt and ½ cup cran-blueberry juice
- Super Berry Smoothie: Blend ½ cup frozen raspberries, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ¾ cup unsweetened pineapple juice and 8 oz. fat-free vanilla yogurt
- Tofu Berry Smoothie: Blend 1 ¼ cups orange juice, 1 medium banana, 1 cup frozen blueberries (or berry of your choice), ½ cup silken tofu and 2 ice cubes
Recipes adapted from: Prevention.com, Eatingwell.com
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