THE BLOG
08/06/2013 09:06 am ET | Updated Oct 06, 2013

I Found My Pill on Blueberry Hill

2013-08-06-CROPPEDBlueberryNap.jpg

"A Nap after Blueberry Picking" by Joseph Csatari

by guest blogger Jeff Csatari, executive editor of special projects for Men's Health

One sign of good health: blue poo.

If you eat enough blueberries, that's what you get.

But have you seen the price of organic blueberries, even now during peak season? A quart costs $8 at our local Wegmans. Kinda makes you want to leave produce and head to the frozen food aisle for some cheap blueberry-flavored ice pops.

That's why I was delighted to stumble upon a treasure trove of free organic blueberries this past weekend while hiking a trail near the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey. The bear scat on the trail tipped me off to the bounty: blue poo. The bushes just 10 yards off the trail were loaded with ripe wild blueberries. I filled my mouth, then my empty Nalgene bottle, then my hat. My daughter did the same. We were in blueberry heaven.

And you can be, too, if you hurry!

Get to the woods and fields to stock up on organic blueberries now before the birds and the bears get them. They are nature's sweet anti-cholesterol meds, rich in fiber and vitamins C and K, and higher in antioxidants than any fruit--and in fact, wild blueberries have higher concentrations than field-grown. That's due to the flavonoid anthocyanin, which gives the fruit its deep blue color. Scientists believe that anthocyanins may play a role in preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In fact, a new study from the United Kingdom found that the combined intake of blueberries and strawberries (both anthocyanin-rich foods) three times a week was associated with a decreased risk for a heart attack in women aged 25 to 42.

Here's some more of what the natural blue food can do for you:

• Blueberries may improve your memory. Researchers in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center monitored two groups of elderly patients with early memory decline. One group was given juice of wild blueberries to drink while the other group got a berry placebo beverage. After 12 weeks, the researchers tested both groups and observed improved memory scores and reduced symptoms of depression only in those patients who drank the wild blueberry juice.

Blueberries protect your DNA. An Italian study of men ages 38 to 57 with risk factors for heart disease found that consuming a wild blueberry drink for six weeks significantly reduced their levels of oxidized DNA.

• A blueberry smoothie may help you recover from a hard workout, according to a report in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Ten female athletes consumed a blueberry smoothie or placebo 5 and 10 hours before and immediately after strenuous eccentric exercises, and then again 12 and 36 hours after the workout. Blood analysis looked at markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. During the next 60 hours, the blueberry smoothie accelerated muscle recovery and a return to peak isometric strength, the researchers found.

• Blueberries foster good digestive health. A 2013 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that regular consumption of a wild blueberry drink can increase the intestinal probiotics Lactobacillus acdophilus and bifidobacterium in the system; these are the "good" bacteria that discourage harmful pathogens. Seems like a good reason to start your day with a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries.

All this talk of blueberries has me thinking about...dinner and one of my all-time favorite summertime recipes, which I included in the book I cowrote with a colleague a few years back, The New Abs Diet Cookbook.

It works great with most any kind of fish. What makes it taste like summer is, of course, the fresh blueberries, which you should forage from your local woods today!

Blueberry-Mango Mahi Mahi

Ingredients:

1/3 cup blueberries

1/3 cup diced mango

2 Tablespoons minced red onion

1 Tablespoon minced cilantro

1 Tablespoon lime juice

½ teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper

2 teaspoons each sugar, salt, and pepper

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 mahi mahi,* sea bass, or halibut** fillets (4 ounces each)

* Opt for mahi mahi from the U.S. Atlantic region for the most sustainable choice

** Opt for Pacific or Alaskan wild-caught halibut for the most sustainable choice

Directions:

1. Mix the blueberries, mango, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Don't worry about crushing the blueberries; you want to release the juice. Set aside.

2. Lightly oil a grill pan or skillet and place over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place, skin side down, in the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the skin is lightly charred and crispy. Turn and sear for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Avoid overcooking; the fish should flake easily with a gentle touch of a fork.

3. Top each piece of fish with the blueberry mixture.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 160 calories, 27 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 280 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Jeff Csatari, executive editor of special projects for Men's Health, is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Belly Off! Diet, and coauthor, with his father Joseph Csatari, of Norman Rockwell's Boy Scouts of America. He has been reporting and writing about health, fitness, and men's issues for more than 15 years. Csatari's other books include Your Best Body at 40+, The Abs Diet Cookbook, coauthored with David Zinczenko, and The Six-Pack Secret.

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com

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