It’s July and time to celebrate everything red, white and blue….blueberry that is since July is National Blueberry Month. On May 8th, 1999, the USDA proclaimed July as National Blueberry Month.  These beautiful berries greatly deserve this honor for not only are they sweet, plump, juicy and delicious, when in season, but they are nutritious and loaded with health benefits, as well.

At only 84 calories per cup and virtually no fat, blueberries provide 24% DV (daily value) of vitamin C, 25% DV of manganese, 36% DV of vitamin K and 14% of the daily requirements of fiber. In addition, blueberries contain phytonutrients called polyphenols. Anthocyanins are one type of polyphenols present in blueberries which give them their blue color. And, research suggests that polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can play an important role in lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer and age-related cognitive decline.

blueberry parfaitBlueberries can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Try stirring them into low-fat yogurt, topping whole grain cereal with them for breakfast, tossing them into a smoothie, or by simply nibbling on plain berries for a nutritious snack. When buying blueberries, be sure to look for firm, dry, plump and smooth skinned berries. Color is an indicator of maturity. Reddish blueberries are not ripe and will not ripen once picked. So, look for deep purple-blue to blue black colored berries. Avoid berries that appear shriveled, soft or with mold. Blueberries should be refrigerated once home and be sure to wash the berries before consuming them. For a fun summer activity, consider locating a local blueberry farm where you can pick your own blueberries. Grab a bucket and pick as many as you like!

During this warm July summer month don’t forget to celebrate National Blueberry Month by indulging in this wonderful, delicious, refreshing and nutritious berry.