Summer is in full bloom and nothing pairs with sunshine quite like fresh berries. Each year blueberries begin to ripen just in time for July, which is appropriately named National Blueberry Month.
The sweet, juicy berry is like a salute to summertime, though it wasn’t just its taste that won this fruit its own national month. The blueberry, often referred to as a superfood, is full of antioxidants. These antioxidants cause the berry to be an extremely healthy snack, as well as a tool in our cancer prevention toolbox.
The cancer-fighting agents found in blueberries include anthocyanosides and resveratrol. Anthocyanosides are one of the most potent antioxidants and have been found to have a number of anticancer properties including radical scavenging activity, stimulation of phase II detoxifying enzymes, and reduced cell proliferation and inflammation. Resveratrol, which is also found in the skin of red grapes, also has a number of health benefits. Along with promoting cardiovascular health, resveratrol is able to inhibit all carcinogenesis stages. This powerful antioxidant not only acts as a chemo-preventative agent, but also displays chemotherapeutic properties such as anti-inflammation.
Due to these superfood properties, researchers have recently begun studying the effects of blueberry extract in radiation treatment. Many have concluded that this addition to radiation treatment can significantly improve the treatment’s efficacy. The blueberry extract helps sensitize cancer cells to the radiation. Continuing from the momentum of this finding, the antioxidants in blueberries were also found to reduce the abnormal cell growth that fuels cancer development.
As with all great findings, further research is required to expand upon the understanding of blueberries’ anticancer properties. Additional research will aid researchers and medical professionals in understanding how blueberries can be used in the realms of cancer treatment and cancer prevention. However, as the world waits for blueberry extract to be approved in mainstream treatment, there is no better time than the present to enjoy a healthy blueberry snack. National Blueberry Month is the perfect opportunity to incorporate these superfood berries into every meal.
Looking for new blueberry recipes? Try these healthy blueberry-lavender yogurt pops! These sophisticated ice pops are easy to make and perfect for a hot summer’s day.
Blueberry-Lavender Yogurt Pops
Prep time: 30 mins
Total time: 4 hours 30 mins
Serves: 10 ice pops
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender or 3 fresh lavender sprigs
- 2 (2-in.) lemon rind strips
- 2 1/4 cups whole-milk plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
- Add berries and sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. As the berries cook, stir occasionally and break up berries by pressing against them. Continue cooking until juices release completely, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.
- While the berries cook, place honey, 1/3 cup water, lavender, and rind in a small saucepan. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard solids. Cool completely.
- Stir together lavender syrup and yogurt in a bowl. Spoon yogurt mixture and blueberry mixture alternately into 10 (3-ounce) ice-pop molds, beginning and ending with yogurt mixture. Swirl gently. Freeze until solid, 4 hours or overnight. Enjoy!
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