Organic Heirloom Blueberry Nutrients
We all enjoy fresh berries, but blues are not only a tasty treat but a healthy one. Bow Hill’s passion for organic heirloom blueberries goes beyond superior flavor.
A Brief History — More than 100 years ago a researcher at the USDA, Fredrick Coville, figured out how to grow blueberries as a domestic crop. Our berries were planted from those heirloom varieties back in 1947 — Stanley, Rubel and Jerseys. Additionally, another older variety, Bluecrop, was planted around a few years later. For the last 20 years the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun research to figure out just what exactly makes blueberries so great.
What are the health benefits? — Blueberries are particularly rich in flavonoids that improve brainpower, they aid in the offset the many negative effects on the brain, skin, and heart (an example being aging) with antioxidant-rich nutrients like anthocyanin. As blueberries are digested the anthocyanin cross the blood-brain barrier, showing direct connections between berry and benefits. It has been suggested that a month of regular blueberry consumption causes reverse aging changes in the brain.
Blueberries are packed with vitamin C, a one cup serving delivers 25% of one’s daily requirements. Vitamin C collagen formation helps maintain healthy gums, capillaries and a healthy immune system. A handful of berries satisfies the recommended daily fiber intake and contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that are both linked to reducing the risk of age related diseases, such as cardiovascular conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, blueberries better our calcium functions in the brain, boost stress response proteins that protect nerves from damage, reduce key inflammation gene-signals, build new nerve structures resulting in better spatial memory and improve brain function and plasticity.
Current studies — Older individuals with memory decline have begun receiving blueberries for 12 weeks in part of a USDA study, these participants showed significant improvement in cognitive function, learning and word recall. They also had a reduction in depressive symptoms while improving their blood sugar metabolism. The recent USDA review concludes by saying, “[n]utritional intervention with blueberries may be effective in forestalling or even reversing the neurological changes associated with aging.” Blueberries are a true brain superfood (among the other amazing benefits they have).
Why are heirloom varieties better? — There is no concrete definition that every gardener uses to define heirloom plants. In general, you should consider heirlooms to be as close to the plants you'd find in the wild. Sturdier, thicker skins, more antioxidants, and so on (hey, they had to fight for thousands of years in harsh conditions, they did what they had to do to survive out there).
There are some distinct differences that one should be aware of when it comes to heirloom, hybrid, and GMO plants. First, heirloom plants are the only ones that breed true, this means the same characteristics are passed on from generation to generation. Both heirloom and hybrid plants can be viewed as natural occurrences (think of apple grafting when you think of a hybrid plant). GMO plants, on the other hand, can only be produced using unnatural methods such as gene splicing. Scientists essentially modify a seed’s DNA to ensure the resulting plant produces the desired traits and characteristics, but these variations in turn loose nutrients and flavor (but produce far more per plant, hence their appeal to some).
Heirlooms are generally known to produce better taste and flavor, as well as fruits and vegetables with greater nutrients. The plants are gradually producing which extends harvesting, meaning you get more goods to enjoy!
Why Organic? — USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic food is pure and all grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers, making it a favorite of many (including us!). Produce can be only called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Organic food isn't genetically modified or irradiated, and only foods that are 95% organic can carry a "USDA Organic" seal. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods.
None of the above should replace the advice of a trained medical professional.
- “Berry good news”, American Heart Association. “Health Benefits of Blueberries -- Go Red For Women.” Go Red For Women®, 5 Nov. 2013,
- “Superfoods You Need Now.” Health.com, health.com/health/gallery/0,,20306775,00.html#blueberries-16.
- Jaslow, Ryan. “Eating Blueberries and Strawberries Staves off Memory Decline, Study Suggests.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 26 Apr. 2012, cbsnews.com/news/eating-blueberries-and-strawberries-staves-off-memory-decline-study-suggests/.
- “History for your brain health”” The USDA Touts Its Hundred Year Blueberry History for Your Brain Health.” Wellness Resources, wellnessresources.com/news/the-usda-touts-its-hundred-year-blueberry-history-for-your-brain-health.
- “The USDA Touts Its Hundred Year Blueberry History for Your Brain Health.” Wellness Resources, wellnessresources.com/news/the-usda-touts-its-hundred-year-blueberry-history-for-your-brain-health
- Spear, Stefanie. “Why You Should Grow Heirloom Seeds.” EcoWatch, EcoWatch, 27 June 2016, ecowatch.com/why-you-should-grow-heirloom-seeds-1882023137.html.