Buyers, beware! “Blueberry” doesn’t always mean what you think it does.
Sigh – here we go again; you feel like you are making a healthy choice but the food marketing industry is one step ahead of the game. Blueberries have been touted for their high antioxidant power, due to their deep blue color and vitamin content. However, to decrease product costs, the food industry doesn’t always use the real deal when flavoring your favorite products.
Many products labeled as “blueberry” aren’t actually made with real blueberries, but instead made with artificial flavors, colors, sugars, and sometimes totally different fruits and juices altogether! If you aren’t eating real blueberries, you aren’t getting the real blueberry benefits.
Thankfully, despite what any product says on the front of its packaging, they can’t fool you when it comes to the ingredient list. Skip over the flashy health claims on the front of the box, and check out the nutrition label and ingredient list. Below are a few examples of how you can tell if you’re getting the benefits of legit blueberries, or if your favorite blueberry product is faking you out:
|Go for these. Their blueberries are legit.|
|Product||Real blueberry ingredient|
|Belvita Breakfast Biscuits (crunchy)||Dried blueberries|
|Kashi Oat Cereal w/Organic Blueberry Clusters||Wild blueberries + elderberry juice concentrate (for color)|
|NutriGrain Soft-Baked Cereal Bars, Blueberry||Blueberry puree concentrate (mashed blueberries with some of the water removed)|
|Don’t be fooled by these imposters!|
|Product||Fake blueberry ingredient|
|Quaker Instant Oatmeal: Blueberries & Cream||Blueberry flavored/colored fruit pieces (dried figs + corn syrup solids)|
|Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai & Blueberry||Fruit filling: Pectin fiber + acai puree + corn syrup + variety of juices blended together: apple, raspberry, blueberry, lemon, and pomegranate|
|Jiffy Blueberry Muffin Mix||Blueberry bits: Dextrose +Palm oil + Natural and Artificial flavors + Blue 2 Lake color|
The easiest way to make sure you aren’t getting duped by imposter ingredients? Purchase fresh or frozen blueberries and add them to your favorite foods yourself! Try this recipe for “Purple Oatmeal.”
INGREDIENTS (Serves 2):
- 1 cup rolled oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup 2% milk or almond milk + a few extra tablespoons for serving
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 cup + 1/4 cup fresh blueberries (about 5 ounces total). If using frozen berries, let them thaw out first
- Pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add oats, water, milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and 1 cup blueberries to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the oats have thickened and most of the berries have burst, turning the oatmeal purple. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Scoop into bowls and divide remaining berries between the two. Drizzle with milk. Add optional toppings if desired: Almonds, fresh mint leaves, a dollop of yogurt, or a sprinkle of feta cheese are fun choices!