The blueberry is one of the most attractive summer fruits, but it's more than just another pretty face. It is packed with natural substances that provide a variety of health benefits.

One of the oldest known fruits, blueberries have long been valued for their medicinal value. Native Americans ate wild blueberries fresh and also dried them in the sun for later use. The national passion for the deep blue, sweet and juicy berries - both wild and cultivated - has never abated. Americans eat millions of tons of blueberries every year.

Modern science has found that blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances believed to slow the aging process and reduce the cell damage that can lead to cancer. USDA researchers have ranked blueberries number one in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants help neutralize some of the harmful by-products of metabolism, called free radicals, that can lead to cancer and other age-related illnesses. Blueberries contain anthocyanin - the compound that makes the berries blue. Anthocyanins help to protect against many chronic diseases.

In laboratory tests, the antioxidants in blueberries were found to slow age-related memory loss. Antioxidants in blueberries also may reduce the buildup of the "bad" cholesterol that contributes to heart disease and stroke. European studies have even found a relationship between blueberries and good eyesight. Blueberries also are a low-fat, low-sodium source of vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber.

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Grilled Chicken With Blueberry-Onion Relish

Makes 4 servings, with 3 1/2 cups of relish.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts(about 1 lb.)
  • Canola oil spray
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  1. Make a marinade for the chicken. Mix together in a non-metal container the juice, canola oil, bay leaf, herb and garlic. Add chicken, cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. Periodically turn food to distribute flavors evenly. When ready to grill, drain chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Meanwhile, make the relish. Cut onions in half, then cut each half crosswise in thirds. Cut each in thin slices. Spray a large skillet with canola oil spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add sherry, vinegar, blueberries and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to low and gently simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer relish to a serving bowl.
  3. Prepare grill for cooking. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Spray lightly with canola oil spray and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 5 to 6 inches above heat source until cooked through (4 to 5 minutes per side). Serve with the blueberry relish.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (with 1/2 cup relish):
195 calories,
3 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
12 g. carbohydrate,
28 g. protein,
2 g. dietary fiber,
244 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 3 Low-Fat Meat, 1 Fruit