If you don’t already include blueberries in your daily diet, you’re missing out. This superhero of nutrient-rich foods packs a punch when it comes to nourishing your eyes. Not to mention how delicious and versatile they are. When choosing foods that will nourish your body, it can be helpful to choose multifunctional ones. This means they can be baked, cooked, and eaten in a variety of ways. Regardless of your affinity for blueberries, it’s possible to consume them in a way you like. This easy superfood will boost your eye nutrients and make a yummy addition to your diet.
Blueberries’ Vision Boosting Benefits
Blueberries are an excellent source of nutrients to protect your vision. Our eyes are vulnerable to lots of diseases, some related to age, others related to lifestyle. Here are some of the key components of blueberries that make them so beneficial.
Vitamin C an antioxidant that fights oxidation in eye cells. Oxidation occurs when there’s a loss of electrons in some of the cells. This loss spurs the creation of free radicals which then damage your eyes. The macula and retina are known to have high levels of oxidation and are therefore vulnerable to free radical damage. This damage can display as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts. Luckily, you can balance the production of free radicals by consuming lots of antioxidants, like vitamin C, every day. One cup of blueberries contains 14 milligrams of vitamin C.
Another important antioxidant found in blueberries is vitamin A. In addition to controlling the number of free radicals in eye cells, vitamin A fights inflammation in the eyes. Inflammation can be caused by infection, disease, or another eye condition. Those who suffer from inflammation in the eye are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. Inflammation can block the pathways for ocular fluid to pass through, therefore building up the intraocular pressure. It’s imperative to get enough vitamin A in your diet to reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of developing eye conditions.
Zinc is a mineral the body depends on to absorb other crucial nutrients, like vitamin A. It’s highly concentrated in and around the retina and promotes retinal health. People who suffer from a zinc deficiency can experience night blindness, alopecia in the eyelashes and brows, and develop cataracts. People diagnosed with macular degeneration can slow down the progression of this disease by increasing their daily zinc intake. Blueberries contain .24 milligrams of zinc in every cup.
Frozen vs. Fresh Blueberries
There’s some controversy over whether frozen fruit is less nutritious than fresh fruit. When it comes to blueberries, the research is open-ended. Blueberries contain a flavonoid called anthocyanins; these flavonoids are responsible for the blue pigment in blueberries. In addition to color, anthocyanin is one of the main antioxidants in blueberries that help protect your eyes from disease and damage.
According to one study, after six months in frozen storage, the sample of blueberries’ anthocyanin decreased by 59 percent. However, for the first three months of being frozen, researchers noticed an increase in anthocyanin capability. Essentially, frozen blueberries that have been stored for more than three months risk losing anthocyanin. This is only one study on the topic of blueberry nutritional value after freezing and more research is needed. Since, as consumers, we don’t how long our frozen blueberries from the grocery store have been stored, it’s safer to choose fresh blueberries when possible.
Ways to Consume Blueberries
Blueberries are one of the most multifunctional fruits out there. You can eat them raw by hand or throw them into a smoothie. Or, you could bake them into muffins, pancakes, and tarts. There are lots of recipes that include blueberries in meat marinade, balsamic glazes, and even turkey stuffing. Since these berries contain so many vision-boosting nutrients, it’s important to find a method of eating them you can enjoy.
Healthy Recipe of the Month: Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
When you think of recipes that are healthy, a cake isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert. It just means you should choose desserts that have lots of nutrients, like this one from EatingWell.com:
- ¾ of a cup granulated sugar (or half a cup of honey for a healthier option)
- 5 tablespoons of unsalted, room temperature butter
- 3 eggs
- ¾ of a cup of partly skimmed ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in separate measurement)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 and a half cups of whole-wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of blueberries
- 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a baking loaf pan that is 9 by 5 inches. Grease the sides of the pan with cooking spray, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
Adding the honey and butter to a bowl, mix on medium-speed. Once the consistency is creamy, mix in the eggs. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add in the ricotta cheese. Then, mix in the lemon zest, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
Once all the ingredients so far are combined, slowly sprinkle in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Keep blending with the mixer on low until ingredients are mostly combined. Then, remove the bowl from the mixer. Slowly fold in the blueberries.
Pour the mixture into the baking loaf pan. Once the oven is fully preheated, bake the loaf until the edges start to brown. It should take around one hour. Test it by sticking a toothpick into the center and seeing if it comes out clean. Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool on a rack.
To make the glaze, mix the powder sugar and one teaspoon of lemon juice together. Once the mixture is fully whisked, brush it onto the cooled cake.