Key Ingredients: Blueberries

In the August 2009 issue of Reader’s Digest, our culinary experts Bonnie Stern and Fran Berkoff bring you some great recipes and nutritional tips for healthy home cooking based on one key ingredient. August’s key ingredient: Blueberries!

Blueberries, both wild and cultivated, are found abundantly this time of year. Not only are they delicious, blueberries are packed with goodness.

Find More Than Thrills in Blueberry “Pills”

Yes, if Fats Domino was a nutritionist, that’s what he would have sung. These little blue jewels are powerhouses when it comes to their nutritional profile. They can help protect the heart, reduce damage from strokes and treat and prevent urin­ary tract infections. But they also offer more.

Brain Power

“Blueberries contain polyphenolic compounds called anthocyanins, which have been shown to increase neuron signalling and to get the brain to make new neurons and better protect itself from the damaging effects of free radicals,” says Dr. James Joseph, director of Neuroscience Laboratory USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, in Massachusetts. “In one study,” says Joseph, “a group of people with mild cognitive impairment were given 12 ounces of wild blueberry juice daily over a 12-week period. At the conclusion of the study, subjects were shown to have improvements in their memories.”

Antioxidant Power

Blueberries are among the highest on the “antioxidant” food list, according to a comprehensive study of the antioxidant cap­acity of foods. Antioxidants in foods can help to fight against the effects of oxidative stress, which has been associated with the development of many chronic and degenerative diseases—including cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.


Bonnie Stern has been teaching people to have fun in the kitchen, to eat more healthfully and to nourish their families since she started her cooking school in 1973.


Fran Berkoff is a consulting dietitian/nutritionist in Toronto, as well as a columnist for newspapers and magazines, and co-author or several books.