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Smashing your face in a blueberry pie to win a pie-eating contest might turn your stomach, but blueberries are worth devouring because they're good for you. The fruit, produced in 35 states in the U.S., is a great source of vitamin C and fiber, a plant part that aids the digestive process. The berries are also low in fat, cholesterol (a waxy, artery-clogging molecule), and sodium.

When scientists from Tufts University in Boston and the U.S. Department of Agriculture compared blueberries with 60 common fruits and vegetables, they found that blueberries--fresh, frozen, canned, or even dried--rank highest in antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural substances found in fruits and vegetables that help neutralize free radicals--unstable oxygen molecules that attack healthy body cells and have been linked to cancer, aging, and heart disease. Free radicals occur naturally in the body but smoking, smog, and foods high in fats and refined sugar increase their amount. "One-half cup of blueberries delivers as much antioxidant power as five servings of other fruits and vegetables--such as peas, carrots, apples, squash, and broccoli," says Ronald Prior, who headed the study.

Tufts/USDA researchers also found that blueberries may aid brainpower. They fed blueberry extract to 19-month-old rats--the equivalent of 65-to-70-year-old humans--every day for eight weeks. Results revealed a marked improvement in the aging rodents' short-term memory, balance, and coordination. So, dive into these little blue powerhouses. But don't forget your fork and napkin.
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Title Annotation:blueberries
Author:Chiang, Mona
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 29, 2002
Words:237
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