Baking blueberries

Flowers in a painting by Von Gogh can be sublime but on lilac wallpaper they push they borders of good taste. Smartphones are an incredibly useful device but used in the audience of a play they become irritating. Context is everything and that is true even for foods with healthy qualities. Blueberries for instance are a wonderful source of antioxidant polyphenols but in a new study researchers examined what happens when you bake blueberries into a pie or a muffin?

Previous research has shown that the polyphenols from blueberries can protect your heart, reduce inflammation, and even improve brain function. Most of the research though is based on eating your blueberries raw and fresh. So these researchers wanted to see how baking blueberries into a muffin or pie affects the polyphenol content.

The blueberries were tested during three processes involved in making muffins and pies; cooking the blueberries, proofing (when the dough rises before cooking), and baking. The effects of these was tested on blueberry polyphenols including anthocyanins, procyanidin, quercetin, and phenolic acids.

The results were variable. Anthocyanin levels dropped by about 21 per cent, phenolic acid levels increased, and levels of quercetin remained constant.

The researchers think that yeast might somehow stabilise the polyphenols which is how they survive, or are increased, by the baking process. The elephant in the kitchen of course is that when you bake blueberries into pies and so on you are also usually adding significant quantities of sugar. So while you may get a decent dose of polyphenols in the blueberries in your muffin you are getting a sugar hit in the same mouthful. While blueberries are a very healthy food eaten fresh, the only real benefit from having them in your muffin is the salve to your conscience. However, sugar-free blueberry muffins with wholegrains will be a different, healthier, story.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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