Today (Thursday, 29 July) marks the first day of Britain’s blueberry season – one of the world’s longest!
That’s why Love Fresh Berries has pulled together its top tips on how and why to enjoy the superhero of the berry world across the coming months.
Did you know, for example:
· The British blueberry market has grown tenfold in a decade to be worth £500 million.
· Last year a whopping 50,000 tonnes of blueberries were bought by British consumers, the equivalent of 40,000 double decker buses.
· Science shows that the superfood can boost happiness, immunity and cognitive function.
· New growing techniques and our spread of geography from the south coast of England to north Scotland means that Britain has one of the world’s longest blueberry production seasons.
Yet many Brits forget that many blueberries, despite their huge rise in popularity in recent years, are home-grown throughout the Summer and Autumn months.
In fact, the much-loved superfood has risen the ranks to become Britain’s second favourite berry.
In the last decade alone, the blueberry market in the UK has boomed – growing tenfold to become worth £500 million to the British economy.
UK growers continue to ramp up production levels to satisfy consumer demand in their season.
This year Brits can enjoy new generation blueberry varieties grown here in the UK which are larger, juicer and sweeter than previous seasons.
What’s more, these homegrown blueberries can be enjoyed for longer.
New growing techniques developed in recent years – polytunnels, irrigation, and substrate production in pots means that Britain now has one of the longest blueberry seasons in the world, stretching from June to November.
5 health benefits of eating blueberries
To celebrate the start of the season, British Summer Fruits has shared its top five health benefits of British blueberries to encourage Brits to pick up a fresh punnet this season.
1. Happiness: Blueberries increase the brain’s production of feel-good dopamine, a natural neurotransmitter that can make us feel happy.
2. Immunity: Blueberries are full to the brim with antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins. Eating them is one of the easiest ways to give your immune system a boost.
3. Healthier Heart: The superfruit is one of the most nutrient dense berries – packed with fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6 – which can help reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
4. Brain Food: Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition has found that eating fresh blueberries could have cognitive benefits for children, including increased cognitive function, reading efficiency and verbal memory.
5. Anti-Ageing: Blueberries have been found to have ‘anti-inflammatory’ mechanisms which can help to promote healthy agein5.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, Public Health Nutritionist and adviser to British Summer Fruits, said: “In the last few years, we’ve seen a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the potential health benefits of blueberries for our brains, our hearts and our guts.
“Now is the perfect time to eat British blueberries. These naturally sweet and versatile fruits provide all-important polyphenols that can be scattered on to cereals, packed into lunch boxes and picnics, or blended into smoothies.”
Nick Marston, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, added: “The British blueberries available in supermarkets right now are large, sweet and delicious.
“Blueberries make the perfect summer snack and are ideal in breakfast, picnic or baking recipes for all the family to enjoy.”