Why are blueberries blue?

Blueberries come in different hues and colours. While wild blueberries growing in the forest are blue all the way through, only the skin of cultivated berries is blue, the flesh is a whitish colour.

But how do these berries with their sweet-and-sour flavour actually get their satiny blue colour?

Phytochemicals known as anthocyanins are responsible for the blue colour of these succulent berries. These chemical compounds are based mainly in the outer layers of a plant, such as the skin, and give flowers and fruit a red, purple or blue colour. They also help to protect against UV radiation, attract insects and bind free radicals.

The anthocyanins also have an antioxidant effect on humans: they bind free radicals and therefore protect against some health disorders that can arise through oxidative processes. These include cardiovascular disease and cancer. The plant pigments are also believed to have a positive health effect on inflammation and high blood pressure. The phytochemicals protect the gut from bacteria and support the digestive system. By secreting insulin, the anthocyanins may even reduce blood sugar levels.

Be careful though. You can also experience a real “blue surprise” with wild blueberries: the anthocyanins in the flesh and the skin are water soluble and will turn teeth, lips and tongue blue! Children in particular find this great fun.

Let yourself be enchanted by these healthy, blue berries.

Your Dole Team

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