Here are answers to your questions about Wild Blueberries, their health and nutritional benefits, and where to find them.
Discover Why Wild is Simply Better
Where do Wild Blueberries grow?
Wild Blueberries thrive in the glacial soils and northern climate of the special place we call the Land of Wild Blueberries – Maine, Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
Wild Blueberries are one of three berries native to North America — what are the others?
Like Wild Blueberries, Concord grapes and cranberries have grown naturally for thousands of years.
How are Wild Blueberries harvested?
Wild Blueberries are often harvested the traditional way, with hand-held berry rakes that have been used for generations. Within hours of being picked, the berries are sorted, cleaned and processed, using state-of-the-art technology to preserve their flavor, quality and antioxidant goodness.
How are Wild Blueberries different from cultivated blueberries?
Wild Blueberries (vaccinium angustifolium) are distinct from their cultivated cousins in several significant ways. Unlike cultivated (highbush) blueberries, Wild (lowbush) Blueberries are not planted. They are spread primarily by rhizomes or underground runners, which give rise to new shoots and stems. Wild Blueberry fields and barrens contain many different varieties of berries, which accounts for the variations in size and color that characterize the Wild Blueberry crop. Wild Blueberry growers use many modern crop management techniques to carefully tend their fields and encourage growth.
Other differences include:
- Antioxidant capacity – Wild Blueberries contain more of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin and demonstrate greater antioxidant capacity per serving than cultivated blueberries.
- Taste – Wild Blueberries have a more intense, sweet and tangy taste than cultivated blueberries
- Size – Wild Blueberries are naturally smaller and more compact (less water content) than cultivated, which means you get more Wild Blueberries per pound.
- Performance – Wild Blueberries hold their shape, texture and color through a variety of baking and manufacturing process. They also freeze very well: IQF Wild Blueberries maintain their quality for more than two years.
Wild Blueberry Health
What do antioxidants do?
The cells in our body are constantly waging a battle against free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules associated with cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging. Antioxidants, which are natural substances found in fruits and vegetables, come to the rescue by neutralizing free radicals and keeping us healthy.
How are antioxidants measured?
The definitive measurement of a food’s antioxidant capacity is the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) procedure, developed by USDA researcher Dr. Guihua Cao. A recent advancement in the measurement of antioxidant activity at the cellular level is the Cellular Antioxidant Activity (CAA) assay, developed by the Cornell University Department of Food Science.
ORAC tests and other laboratory studies show that Wild Blueberries are a leading antioxidant fruit.
What does that mean for me?
It means that a ½ cup serving of Wild Blueberries has more of the antioxidant power you need to help fight cancer, heart disease, short-term memory loss and other effects of aging than many other fruits and vegetables.
What is anthocyanin and why is it important?
Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant responsible for the intense blue and red pigments of fruits like Wild Blueberries. Anthocyanin is believed to protect against brain aging and promote vision health. In addition to reducing eye strain and improving night vision, scientists are examining the ability of anthocyanin-rich Wild Blueberries to prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65.
How do Wild Blueberries help fight the effects of aging?
James Joseph, Ph.D, and his team at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center in Boston report that a diet of blueberries may improve motor skills and reverse the short-term memory loss that comes with aging. USDA animal trials showed improved navigational skills after a two-month diet of blueberry extract. Although other fruits and vegetables were studied, only blueberries were effective in improving motor skills. (Journal of Neuroscience, September 15, 1999, 19(18); 8114-8121)
What role might Wild Blueberries play in preventing cancer?
Studies conducted by Mary Ann Lila Smith, Ph.D, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, indicate that compounds in Wild Blueberries may be effective inhibitors of both the initiation and promotion stages of cancer. (Journal of Food Science, Vol. 65, No. 2, 2000)
Can Wild Blueberries help protect against urinary tract infections?
Yes. At the Rutgers University Blueberry Cranberry Research Center, Amy Howell, Ph.D, showed that blueberries, like cranberries, contain compounds that prevent the bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections from attaching to the wall of the bladder. (New England Journal of Medicine, October 9, 1998, Volume 339, Number 15)
Wild Blueberry Nutrition
Why is eating colorful foods, like blueberries, such a hot topic?
Scientific research is showing that many of the very chemicals, known as phytochemicals, that give fruits and vegetables their color are good for us.
What’s more, The Color Code, a new book available nationwide, explores the powerful connection between the color of foods and optimum health. According to James A. Joseph, Ph.D., one of the book’s authors, “Incorporating colorful fruits and vegetables into a daily eating plan may be the best defensive strategy for fending off many diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.”
Wild Blueberries are a “nutrient-rich” food. What does that mean?
At just 45 calories per serving, Wild Blueberries deliver substantial nutrients for every calorie consumed. That makes them a nutrient-rich choice for your daily diet.
What are the USDA recommendations for healthy eating?
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans clearly recommend eating more fruits and vegetables every day. Depending upon your age and weight, the guidelines specify between 1 and 2½ cups of fruit daily. Just ½ cup of Wild Blueberries is considered a serving.
Are frozen berries as nutritious as fresh ones?
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and many even retain their nutritional value longer. That’s good news for Wild Blueberries, which freeze extraordinarily well.
Wild Blueberry Availability
Where can I buy Wild Blueberries and when?
Wild Blueberries are available year-round. Consumers can buy them at their local supermarkets in frozen, canned, jarred, dried and fresh forms. For the trade, Wild Blueberries are also available in concentrate, purée, powder and extruded forms.