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Ask Tufts Experts April 2009 Issue

Q: I’ve read that wild blueberries are good for you, but most of us have access only to cultivated berries. Does this mean that cultivated berries are not as good for you?

Answer :  It’s true that USDA testing in 2004 found that wild blueberries had more antioxidant capacity than the same size serving of cultivated blueberries (while also scoring higher than cranberries, strawberries, plums and raspberries). But the nation’s leading researcher on the health benefits of blueberries, James A. Joseph, PhD, a research physiologist at Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, says that from a nutritional standpoint, wild and cultivated blueberries can be considered equal.

Tufts researchers and others are studying blueberries’ antioxidant benefits, including the promise that they could boost brain functions that weaken with aging. Other research has suggested that blueberries may help improve cholesterol levels, protect against stroke, aid urinary- tract health and even inhibit tumor growth.

If you really want to seek out wild blueberries, note that they can often be found frozen. Whether wild or cultivated, frozen blueberries are an economical way to “go blue” even when fresh berries are out of season; typically frozen when the berries are at their peak, they offer the same nutritional benefits as fresh.

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