Posted by Bangzkie Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Blueberries are perennial flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium (a genus which also includes cranberries and bilberries), with indigo-colored berries. Species in the section Cyanococcus are the most common fruits sold as "blueberries" and are native to North America (commercially cultivated highbush blueberries were not introduced into Europe until the 1930s)They are usually erect but sometimes prostrate shrubs varying in size from 10 centimeters (3.9 in) to 4 meters (13 ft) tall. In commercial blueberry production, smaller species are known as "lowbush blueberries" (synonymous with "wild"), and the larger species are known as "highbush blueberries".The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen, ovate to lanceolate, and 1–8 cm (0.39–3.1 in) long and 0.5–3.5 cm (0.20–1.4 in) broad. The flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. The fruit is a berry 5–16 millimeters (0.20–0.63 in) in diameter with a flared crown at the end; they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally dark blue when ripe. They have a sweet taste when mature, with variable acidity. Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit in the middle of the growing season: fruiting times are affected by local conditions such as altitude and latitude, so the height of the crop can vary from May to August depending upon these conditions.
Medicinal Uses Researchers have shown blueberries contain pterostilbene, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, flavonols, and tannins, which inhibit mechanisms of cancer cell development and inflammation in vitro.Similar to red grape, some blueberry species contain in their skins significant levels of resveratrol,a phytochemical.Although most studies below were conducted using the highbush cultivar of blueberries (V. corymbosum), content of polyphenol antioxidants and anthocyanins in lowbush (wild) blueberries (V. angustifolium) exceeds values found in highbush species.At a 2007 symposium on berry health benefits, reports showed consumption of blueberries (and similar berry fruits including cranberries) may alleviate the cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer's disease and other conditions of aging.
Nutritional value and phytochemicals Especially in wild species, blueberries contain anthocyanins, other antioxidant pigments and various phytochemicals, which possibly have a role in reducing risks of some diseases,including inflammation and certain cancers.