Few foods boast such a delightful indigo hue and a juicy sweetness as blueberries. They grow on perennial bushes that are native to North America. These bushes typically fruit throughout the summer months depending on the region.
Blueberries are a delightful addition to pies, muffins, cobblers, and an array of other sweet, fruity desserts or breakfast foods. They can also be used to make delicious jams and jellies that can be jarred and last long after the blueberry season has passed. Fresh blueberries can easily be frozen and saved to use in smoothies or in any recipe that calls for fresh blueberries. Blueberries are a wonderful, versatile fruit to have in the freezer when a craving for something sweet hits.
An equal or perhaps more important characteristic to blueberries, other than their delicious taste and versatility, is their ORAC value. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. In other words, how well the food protects the body from free radicals when eaten. Blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables, contain phytochemicals that protect them from pests, fungus, and diseases.
Therefore, when humans consume these foods their bodies receive the protection that the plant has already cultivated for itself and convert that into antioxidants to fight against the damaging effect of free radicals. The ORAC value is a measurement of how much protection a plant can provide from free radicals and blueberries are towards the top of the list. So, eating blueberries not only satisfies cravings for sweet, juicy fruits, but also provides the immune system with defenses to keep the body functioning well and protecting against disease and aging.
Yet, these benefits are only possible when one is consuming REAL blueberries. That may sound like an odd statement, but there are many products on the market that are touting blueberries as an ingredient and when investigated more closely, there are little to no blueberries in these products…
This leads one to the question: If the blueberry muffins on the shelf do not, in fact, contain real blueberries, then what is the blueberry-like imposter in the muffins?
Many of the products claiming to have blueberries as part of their ingredients have ingredients called “blueberry bits” or “blueberry crunchlets” which are usually a combination of unhealthy and artificial ingredients such as sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and artificial flavors and colorings.
These imitation ingredients mimic the look and sweetness of blueberries but they could not be farther on the nutritional spectrum from real blueberries. There is no ORAC rating for blueberry bits and it is becoming evident that such highly processed foods are actually contributing to the epidemic of disease and obesity in the U.S.
Many of the most popular foods on the shelves at the grocery store have fake blueberries, such as cereals, pop-tarts, bagels, muffin mixes, and pancake and waffle mixes. Because of deceptive pictures on the fronts of the packages, they appear to have blueberries but there are very few whole blueberries, if any. Quaker blueberries and cream flavored instant oatmeal lists “blueberry flavored fruit pieces” as the blueberry component which is made from dried figs, corn syrup solids dried, food starch modified, other miscellaneous ingredients, and blueberry concentrate for flavor.
Some of the most popular brands that deceptively market their products with blueberries (and other fruit imposters) are Quaker multigrain fiber crisps, Kellogg’s cereals and pop-tarts, General Mills Brand cereals, Aunt Jemima’s blueberry waffles, Jimmy Dean’s pancake on a stick, Jiffy blueberry muffin mix, and Welch’s blueberry fruit n yogurt snacks. Some of these products say on the front label that they are made with artificial or imitation blueberries, but the pictures show real blueberries. People often make decisions on what they purchase at the grocery store based on the picture of the finished product rather than the list of ingredients.In today’s market, this may wreak havoc on their waistlines as well as their health.
Why Do Food Companies Use Fake Blueberries?
Regardless of the ill effects that these foods have on people’s health, companies have found loopholes in order to promote their products as having blueberries even when they are not an actual ingredient. This kind of deceptive marketing has been happening for many years because the global food industry has a large amount of power over policies regarding food and it has profit as its number one priority.
Using real blueberries is too costly when there are chemicals and processed sugars that can be used to mimic actual fruit. The limited season that blueberries produce fruit makes them a more expensive option for manufacturers.
The popularity blueberries have found for being touted as a “superfood,”because of their high antioxidant properties, has increased their demand and thereby increased their cost. Yet, there are organic companies that are paying the higher prices in order to maintain the integrity of their products and not use chemical blueberry imposters.
Even though many of the organic food producers are using real blueberries, people often avoid organic products because they find them to be too expensive. And yet, the big food companies are charging a higher price for their products and increasing their profit marginbecause they are pretending that their products have real blueberries.
Another important factor is that because of the large amounts of sugar and sugar derivatives in these processed foods, consumers become addicted to them. Through faulty advertising, deceptive marketing, and the use of cheap ingredients that addict and trick people into buying these products, the food industry has fooled people into spending their hard earned money on these fake, unhealthy, and dangerous foods.
What Can You Do to Avoid Fake Blueberries?
Fortunately, there is hope. By knowing what ingredients to look for on a label, you can leave fake blueberries on the shelf. In this case, it is important to look for blueberries as an ingredient if you want to enjoy the high antioxidants of this fruit in a cereal or granola. Many organic cereal companies have organic blueberries in their products.
Another option to avoid fake blueberries is to buy fresh blueberries and add them to your cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. You can also add blueberries into baking recipes to make your own real blueberry muffins, pancakes, or waffles.
Blueberries are available in summer months at farmer’s markets in many U.S. towns, so you can stock up during these months and freeze your blueberries to use later.By having and utilizing this information about blueberries, you can receive the wonderful benefits of this fruit without adding processed blueberry bits into your diet.
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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