Small but Mighty
The blueberry is one of the few fruits native to North America. Native Americans used the berries and parts of the plant for medicine. Today, blueberries have a “rockstar” reputation among fruits; They contain powerful phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which give these berries their blue color.
What’s in Blueberries?
Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, manganese and a good source of dietary fiber. Blueberries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant power, largely due to their many phytochemicals:
- Anthocyanins, catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and other flavonoids
- Ellagitannins and ellagic acid
- Pterostilbene and resveratrol
Did George Washington cut down a sweet or tart cherry tree? In the 1600s settlers brought cherry trees to America; by the late 1800s cherry orchards flourished in northern Michigan and the Pacific Northwest. Today, Michigan produces most of our tart cherries and northwestern states produce 60 percent of sweet cherries. Some studies show that compounds in cherries may help relieve pain from arthritis, gout and headaches.
What’s in Cherries?
Both sweet and tart cherries are a good source of fiber and vitamin C, and they contain potassium. Tart cherries, but not sweet cherries or tart cherry juice, are also an excellent source of vitamin A. Cherries contain a variety of phytochemicals contributing both color and antioxidant activity:
- The fruit’s dark red color comes from their high content of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants
- Hydroxycinnamic acid and perillyl alcohol, a phytochemical from the monoterpene family, provide cherries’ antioxidant power
Both sweet and tart cherries supply these antioxidant substances, though tart cherries contain more.
The antioxidants in cherry juice and dried cherries (both unsweetened and sweetened) are similar to fresh cherries, according to producer data. Frozen cherries’ antioxidant content is somewhat lower, and canned cherries’ decreases further but remains significant.