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Dried fruits like Wild Blueberries offer big time benefits

Dried fruits like Wild Blueberries offer big time benefits

When fresh fruits are harder to come by, there's nothing like their flavorful, nutritious dried counterparts. In the January/February 2005 issue of Health, Domenica Marchetti , author of "One Sweet Package," extols the added benefits of antioxidant-rich dried fruits, calling them "tiny, concentrated packages of nutrition, high in fiber, potassium and other nutrients."

In fact, she says, dried fruits may offer many of the same health benefits as fresh - and may contain even higher concentrations of antioxidants.

Blueberries are a good example. The author sites USDA research indicating that fresh blueberries rank #1 in antioxidants compared with other fruits. Further studies conducted by blueberry researcher Charles M. Mainland, Ph.D., professor of horticulture at North Carolina State University, show that dried blueberries pack an even bigger punch, with four times greater antioxidant content than fresh blueberries.

In her article, Marchetti compares six of the most nutrient-packed dried fruits, including blueberries, prunes, tart cherries, figs and papaya. Blueberries top the list with the highest antioxidants.

Blueberry benefits: "Highest antioxidant content among dried fruits, which helps neutralize free radicals."

One of the benefits of dried fruits like blueberries, according to Marchetti, is their long shelf life - 6 months to a year in an airtight container. And, like frozen blueberries, dried blueberries have many creative uses, from entrees to salads, to holiday stuffing. Marchetti recommends stirring dried blueberries into oatmeal or muffin batter, sprinkling them over spinach salad, or folding them into chicken, turkey or carrot salad.

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