One of the more unusual botanicals used to make Sibling Gin is blueberry. The berries give a burst of fruity freshness to the gin and are also recommended as one of the garnishes in the sibling's signature G&T.
As well as being delicious, blueberries are also incredibly healthy - just what we need after all that festive indulgence over the past couple of days!
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of any fresh fruit. One 80g serving of blueberries provide 7.5 times more antioxidants than a small banana. The same size serving counts as one of your five a day - and contains just 46 calories.
There are plenty of other goodies to be found in these little fellas, including zinc, sodium, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese – not to mention that they’re a great source of vitamins C and K, and, of course, fibre.
All this has led some to label blueberries a ‘superfood’ – but as dietician Priya Tew says:
“There’s no real suggestion about what a ‘superfood’ really is or isn’t. What we can say is that all fruits and vegetables should be considered ‘superfoods’ because they are all packed full of vitamins, minerals and essential chemicals and they’re the things that people generally make claims about.”
Superfood or super-fad, here are five of the more eyebrow-raising health claims that have been made in the name of blueberries. Feel free to mull them over as you sup your blueberry-infused Sibling gin…can you feel it doing you good?
1. They make your kids smarter
One of the most recent studies into the effects of eating blueberries found that drinking blueberry juice can boost children’s brain power.
Researchers from Reading University performed three sets of tests on 21 different girls and boys, measuring their cognitive performance after drinking sugary water, after a medium strength blueberry drink and finally, after a high strength blueberry drink.
They found that the children performed better at tasks involving recalling words and ignoring distractions after drinking the fruit-based drinks – getting the best results after drinking the high-strength drink, which contained the equivalent of a cup and a half of wild blueberries.
Writing about the study in the European Journal of Nutrition, Professor Claire Williams claimed: “This study suggests a strong link between wild blueberry intake and enhanced cognition in kids.”
2. They’re good for your heart
A 2012 study claimed that women who ate three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries every week were 32 % less likely to have a heart attack than those who ate berries once a month or less.
Another study published earlier this year similarly suggested that eating a handful of blueberries every day could decrease the possibility of heart disease, particularly among post-menopausal women.
After eight weeks, the women in this study who had consumed a daily dose of blueberry powder had significantly lower blood pressure results than before, in contrast to women who had been given a placebo who saw no change.
3. They boost eye health
In Japan, blueberries are known as ‘the vision fruit’ and little bottles of blueberry juice are a popular item for consumers eager to improve their eyesight.
Blueberries were also allegedly eaten by Royal Air Force pilots in World War II to improve their night vision - although the jury is out on whether this really worked.
What various studies have shown, however, is that the anthocyanins that are present in blueberries – and are responsible for their blue tint – have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects and can reduce eye fatigue and improve visual function.
4. They help you burn fat
A study carried out at the University of Michigan Cardioprotection Research Laboratory, found that blueberries can help reduce belly fat - a key indicator of heart disease and diabetes.
Although the study was carried out on rats, it showed that subjects that ate blueberry extract also experienced other health benefits, including lowered cholesterol and improved glucose control - even if the rest of their diet wasn’t healthy.
Another study, carried out in 2011, showed that the polyphenols present in the fruit can reduce the number of fat cells in the body by up to 73%
5. They protect against memory loss
There have been numerous studies that connect consumption of blueberries with preventing memory loss.
One study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine in 2008 suggested that compounds called flavonoids, which are found in blueberries, can stimulate the regeneration of brain cells, improving both long and short-term memory.
Another study, carried out at the University of Cincinnati in 2010, found that when older adults with memory problems drank wild blueberry juice on a daily basis, their memory function was improved after 12 weeks of participation.
Now, if only I could remember where I put those blueberries…