According to the National Restaurant Association, a recent survey showed that 70 percent of consumers consider whether or not a restaurant has healthy choices when choosing where to eat out. Diners, especially millennials and Gen Xers, are more likely to base their restaurant selection on the availability of healthy, locally sourced or environmentally-friendly foods.
Mary Ann Lila, director for the Plants for Human Health Institute, says research on wild blueberries shows that they are not only beneficial for the heart and blood pressure, but also are beneficial for mental acuity, cognitive function, and metabolic issues, such as diabetes.
“The use of wild blueberries in cuisine can give restaurant owners a unique edge over other establishments because the use of berries in the diet prepared with wild meats and seafoods and greens is a 'back to nature' proposition,” Lila says. “Using a berry with known health benefits and a wild, exotic history is appealing to health-conscious consumers looking for some unique flavors and pure natural ingredients when they dine out,” Lila says.
A study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University found that the bioactive compounds in blueberries increased research participants’ insulin sensitivity, a key factor in preventing type-2 diabetes.
“The most exciting health benefit has to do with metabolic syndrome and diabetes,” Lila says. “Research indicates that diabetic symptoms are reduced after consumption of wild blueberries. As diabetes and metabolic syndromes are such an escalating problem in this country, it’s a key finding.”
Other benefits of wild blueberries include improving cognitive function, gut health, and cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure.
Research at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that a diet including blueberries may improve motor skills in aging adults and may reverse short-term memory loss. And studies at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom found that wild blueberries promote healthy brain activity in children and teens, including positive effects on memory, concentration and mood.