Author: Tanya Wilson – Blueberries are well-loved by nutritionists and dieters alike: They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, high in fiber, and low in calories (only 85 calories per 1 cup of fresh berries). And now it seems we have another reason to enjoy them- new research from the University of Michigan suggests that a diet rich in blueberries may help get rid of belly fat and curb risk factors leading to diabetes.
Though the study was done on animals, the results are intriguing, and have opened the door for human studies. Here is a quick rundown of the study and its results:
Blueberries were given as a freeze-dried powder mixed into their food and constituted only 2% of their diets. They were also put on either a high-fat or low-fat diet with or without the powder. After 90 days the different groups were then compared:
- Those consuming the blueberry powder, whether or not they were on a low-fat or high-fat diet, showed lower triglycerides, lower abdominal fat, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity.
- Those consuming blueberry powder in addition to a low-fat diet, also had a lower body weight, lower total
fat mass, and reduced liver mass compared to all groups.
The results of these studies indicate that the antioxidants, possibly the anthocyanins, found in blueberries may affect not only how the body burns and stores fat, but also how it uses glucose. Surely more research on these effects will be coming.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy blueberries for what we already know they are: low-calorie, healthy, and delicious. Here’s a few easy blueberry recipes to enjoy:
Low-Fat Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
(makes 8 servings)
- 1 pie shell, (low-fat)
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
- 4 TBS sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups fresh blueberries, or frozen
- 3 TBS cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Pre-bake pie crust for only 10 minutes, then remove from oven.
- In food processor, combine cottage cheese, 2 TBS of the sugar, and egg until smooth.
- Pour into the bottom of the partially baked pie shell, and then bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven, reduce heat to 350F.
- Cover the pie crust edge with foil to prevent browning.
- In a bowl stir together the blueberries, remaining 2 TBS of sugar, and cornstarch.
- Let set for 10 minutes.
- Pour over the cheese mixture, and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving.
(makes 6 servings)
- 6 cups Apple juice
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
- 3 cups Couscous (uncooked)
- 1 pint Fresh Blueberries (May use frozen, but drain first)
- Combine apple juice, vanilla, and couscous large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and all juice is absorbed.
- Remove mixture from heat.
- Gently fold in blueberries while mixture is warm.
- Rinse, but don’t dry, a 9×14 inch cake pan and pour in mixture.
- Chill in refrigerator until set. (about 2 hours)
- To serve, simply cut into squares, and Enjoy!
Low-Calorie Blueberry Muffins
- 3/4 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 Large Egg
- 1/2 Cup Skim Milk
- 1 1/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries
- 2 TBS Low-fat Buttery Spread (melted)
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon or orange peel
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line muffin pan with paper cups (about 12)
- Mash up 1/4 cup of the blueberries, mix in citrus peel, and set aside.
- Thoroughly mix all dry ingredients (except berries), in a large bowl and set aside.
- Beat egg until fluffy, then whisk in milk and butter spread.
- Pour egg mixture over dry mixture. Add mashed berries and whole berries. Fold all ingredients gently until moistened. Batter will be lumpy–Do not over mix.
- Scoop batter into muffin cups, until each is about 2/3 full.
- Bake 15-20 minutes until tops are lightly browned.
- Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.
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