A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Foods that fight cancer: Blueberries

blueberry pancakes and coffee for breakfast

Blueberries neutralize free radicals that often are blamed for causing cancer and other health conditions.

They’re sweet when ripe, loaded with fiber and it’s the ‘blue’ in blueberries that makes them a superfood when it comes to fighting cancer.

“Blueberries are high in the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is responsible for their blue color,” said Shelly Wildenberg, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “This phytochemical, in combination with their high vitamin C content and fiber, makes them famous as a super food.”

Antioxidants are plant chemicals that prevent cell damage, said Wildenberg.

“They neutralize free radicals that often are blamed for causing cancer and other health conditions,” she said. “In lab studies, antioxidants prevent cancer cells from multiplying and cause some cells to die. They also inhibit new blood vessels from forming that can help tumors grow.”

Can you eat too many blueberries?

Wildenberg says eating a variety of fruits and vegetables generally is best.

“Blueberries are not considered a food high in vitamin K, but if you consume an overly large amount, they may interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications like warfarin,” she said. “They also contain enough oxalate that if you’re prone to kidney stones, you may want to limit servings.”

Fresh blueberries are the best, but even after freezing the nutrient content is still intact.

“When you freeze fresh fruits, the process is usually done when fruit is at its peak ripeness and nutrients are most vital,” Wildenberg said. “Cooking usually causes nutrients in many natural foods to be lost, but antioxidants in blueberries are considered heat-stable and their nutrient power isn’t compromised by cooking.”

Tips for buying, storing and using

  • Inspect the package for mold.
  • Look for berries that are firm, not wrinkly or bruised, and no juice should be in the carton.
  • Red blueberries aren’t ripe and won’t ripen after picked. Premature blueberries can be quite tart.

“Keep fresh blueberries refrigerated,” Wildenberg said. “To help prevent spoilage, avoid washing blueberries until right before using them.”

You can add blueberries to almost any baking recipe and salads and June is prime picking season in the Midwest.

Try this recipe: Fabulous Flaxseed and Blueberry Pancakes

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 4-6 minutes/pancake

Servings: 4-6


  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour*
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour*
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup skim or low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and set aside
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • Pure maple syrup as desired

*Refrigerate or freeze these ingredients to keep fresh. When ground, these grains tend to go rancid quickly at room temperature.


In large bowl combine flours, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl mix together buttermilk, skim milk, eggs, oil and honey.

Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir just until batter is lightly mixed together. (If the batter appears too thick, add a dollop more of skim milk to thin.) Lumps are okay and over mixing makes for hard pancakes. Fold in blueberries.

Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Use about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side on medium or medium-high heat. Pancakes are ready to flip when bubbles start to appear. Turn over only once and when golden brown. You will have enough for 4–6 generous servings; leftovers can be frozen for a mid-week treat.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains about 220 calories; 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat); 33 g carbohydrate; 9 g protein; 6 g dietary fiber; 600 mg sodium.

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Jun 22, 2015
    • Jun 24, 2015

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