Health benefits of dried, fresh, and frozen blueberries
Do dried blueberries have the same health benefits as fresh blueberries?
For years, researchers have touted the power of blueberries to lower cholesterol, promote cardiovascular health, prevent breast cancer, and provide all the benefits of antioxidants. Whether fresh, frozen, or dried, blueberries have a ton of nutrients that make them a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Dried blueberries have slightly different nutrients and health benefits than fresh blueberries, but both can be part of a balanced diet.
In addition to dried and fresh, blueberries are commonly found in frozen form. As a popular addition to smoothies or salads or as an alternative snack to chips and candy, frozen blueberries are speculated to have even more benefits than fresh or dried blueberries. While all three forms of blueberries have health benefits, you correctly guessed that there are key differences between them, including:
- Calories and sugar: One cup of frozen or fresh blueberries contains about 80 calories and 15 grams of sugar, while one cup of dried blueberries has over 500 calories and 100 grams of sugar. So, while you might be able to eat raw blueberries in larger quantities, paying attention to portion size may be a good idea when eating them dried. Because they’re so calorie dense, dried fruits may be a good choice for athletes looking for a quick energy boost.
- Antioxidant content: Up to 40 or 50 percent of the antioxidants in blueberries are lost in the drying process, meaning fresh and frozen blueberries have more antioxidants than dried ones. Certain drying processes may remove more antioxidants than others — specifically, blueberries that are heat dried and processed with an osmotic treatment (soaking the blueberries in a solution that helps them dry faster) lose more than those that don’t get an osmotic treatment. However, freeze-dried blueberries tend to lose fewer antioxidants than those that are heat dried. Frozen blueberries, on the other hand, are the greatest source of antioxidants due to the frozen structure of the blueberry skin making nutrients more accessible to the human body. No matter the form, blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, with one cup of fresh berries containing up to ten times the daily recommended serving of antioxidants.
- Fiber: Dried blueberries come out on top in this category, containing up to twelve grams of fiber per cup versus the three to four grams per cup in fresh blueberries and six grams per cup in frozen blueberries. Twelve grams of fiber satisfies almost half of the recommended daily fiber requirement, making dried blueberries a bowel movement-friendly snack.
- Additives: Non-organic fresh blueberries are kept fresh with the help of pesticides. Frozen blueberries, however, are flash frozen right after they’re plucked from the bush and, thus, may have less pesticide residue on them, a benefit to those that are sensitive or concerned. Additionally, for dried blueberries, sulfur dioxide is sometimes used during the drying process. Sulfides can induce asthma symptoms in people who are sulfite-sensitive or allergic. You may want to make sure to read the package carefully if this is a concern for you.
To sum things up, both dried and fresh blueberries have nutritional benefits, with the addition of frozen blueberries as another healthy, accessible option. However, what type of blueberry you choose to eat in a moment may depend on what you're looking for from your food. But in its variety of forms, blueberries can be a high-fiber snack, a great source of antioxidants, an energy boost, or even all three. Due to the versatility of this tasty fruit, consider incorporating all three forms into your diet, with dried fruit in moderation.
Here’s hoping you enjoy some blueberries berry soon!
Originally published Jan 26, 2007
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