July is National Blueberry Month

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Here in Kentucky we wait 11 whole months for this special time of year. Production, nutritional value, and taste are at the peak of the season and prices are at the lowest level of the year. July is blueberry season! There’s nothing quite like bringing home fresh berries in the summer, bursting with the perfect combination of tart and tangy sweetness.  It’s easy to see why someone felt that blueberries needed their own month to celebrate.
As if the taste alone weren’t enough, there are plenty of reasons why blueberries are a great choice to include in your diet now and throughout the rest of the year. In addition to being dubbed a “super food” as a result of their high antioxidant content, blueberries are excellent sources of fiber and vitamins.
In the last five years, there has been a few interesting studies to further support the health benefits of blueberries:
There is exciting new evidence that blueberries can improve memory. After 12 weeks of daily blueberry consumption, older adults showed improvement on two different tests of cognitive function, including memory. Authors of this study suggested that the results indicate that blueberries could be beneficial not only for improvement of memory, but for slowing down or postponing the onset of other cognitive problems that occur with aging.
A recent study, that included blueberries as part of a daily “low-glycemic” (GI) fruit treatment, found that blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Coupled with physical activity, over a 3-month period participants saw significant improvement in their regulation of HgA1C levels after consuming 3 servings of low-GI fruits (blueberries included each day).
Source:  Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist for Food and Nutrition, University Of Kentucky, College of Agriculture

Very Berry Salsa
4 cups apples, finely diced    
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries, diced
1 cup raspberries, halved
1 cup blackberries, halved
1 tablespoon fruit preserves
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon brown sugar

In a large bowl, combine apples and berries. In a small bowl, mix together preserves and sugars until well blended.
Pour preserve mixture over fruit and toss to coat.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Yield: 32, 2 ounce servings Nutritional Analysis:  20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 0 g protein
Source: University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, Plate it Up!

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.