- Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush), Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush), Vaccinium ashei (rabbiteye)
- Summer (May - August)
- Quercetin, Delphinidin, Myricetin
Natural Antiangiogenic Molecules:
Blueberries, small bush fruits, are some of the oldest foods known to man. Humans have consumed wild blueberries since prehistoric times. Native Americans used blueberries in their savory meat dishes. The blueberry is one of the few native North American foods cultivated on a large scale. Blueberries were gathered from the wild until the 1920s. The Vaccinium genus also includes the blueberry’s close relatives: cranberries, lingonberries, and bilberries (European blueberries).
Today, there are a great number of both wild and cultivated blueberry varieties available. The North American variety alone contains about 30 different species. Blueberries are generally divided into three categories: the North American Highbush blueberry, the familiar large plump sweet berry that grows on 3-6 feet tall bushes that grows all along the East coast and Northwest of the U.S; the Lowbush blueberry, small intensely flavored berries (often sold as "wild blueberries") that grows on 6-18 inch bushes in the Northeast and Canada; and the Rabbiteye blueberry that are pink (like a rabbit's eye) prior to ripening, which grows in the South U.S.. Cultivated blueberries are bred sweeter and milder in taste than wild blueberries, which are often tangy and tart.
Blueberry is the most popular muffin flavor in the U.S., accounting for 49-65% of all commercial muffin sales.
When picking blueberries, they should be firm and uniformly bright in color. Fresh blueberries should be consumed as soon as possible because their thin outer skins and small sizes make them especially prone to damage and rapid spoilage. If necessary, blueberries can be stored for a couple of days in the refrigerator. Blueberries also degrade quickly after contact with water because washing removes the waxy, white “bloom” that serves as the berry’s protective outer coating. Therefore, blueberries should be washed only prior to eating. To store blueberries long-term, freezing works well and last for up to a year.
Blueberries contain many phenolic compounds and proanthocyanidin pigments in their outer skins. The phenolic constituents in blueberries include chlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid, hyperoside, quercetin-3-O-glucoside, isoorientin, isovitexin, orientin and vitexin. Blueberries are considered to have among the highest antioxidant capacity among other fruits and vegetables. Extracts of blueberries have been found to suppress the expression of angiogenic factors (VEGF ) from cells in culture, and to reduce the proliferation of various human cancer cell lines (oral, breast, colon, and prostate).
In an epidemiological study by Buchner et al., only berry consumption (among the other fruits and vegetables tested) was found to reduce lung cancer risk. Additional evidence of blueberries’ specific anti-cancer effects has been demonstrated through animal studies; blueberry-fed mice resulted in reduced size and proliferation of breast tumors, and inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase enzymes, part of the angiogenesis process. Compared to other fruits tested (blackberries, cranberries, and plums), blueberry and pomegranate juices reduced colon cancer development in rats.