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my food is blue

Blue is good for you.

Keep that in mind as you shop this summer for blueberries, the only truly blue food.

Blue raspberry popsicles and blue raspberry Jell-O don't count. But blueberries sure do.

Some even call blueberries the super food -- making them a fine addition to our plan to put more color on our plates this year.

"They're one of the sweetest things around, and because of their great indigo color, they have these antioxidants that fight aging, cancer and heart disease and improve vision," said Ellen Haas, former undersecretary of agriculture for food and nutrition and the author of "Diabetes Fit Food," a new book for the American Diabetes Association.

Blueberries also are a great source of Vitamin C and are low in calories. One cup has only 80, so you can eat blueberries to your heart's content. They're a good source of fiber, too.

Add them to a salad or whirl them in the blender to create a smoothie for breakfast or dessert. Toss in other berries, and your diet will be packed with disease-fighting nutrients.

You also can eat plump blueberries plain. They are delicious frozen, too. Just don't wash them first or they will turn tough and chewy.

To freeze, place unwashed blueberries on a cookie sheet. Be sure to pat dry if they are moist from storage. Freeze them, and then fill a plastic freezer bag with the treasure to pull out as you please.

"It's a shame that the Southern ones have been hurt, but still there are going to be plenty of blueberries around," Haas said, referring to an Easter freeze that destroyed many of South Carolina's blueberries. York County growers say their crop was obliterated by that freeze, so berry fans will have to rely on what's being shipped in to local stores.

Did you know that North America produces 90 percent of the world's blueberries? The harvest begins in mid-April and runs through early October. July is the fruit's peak month of production, leading it to be labeled "National Blueberry Month."

That makes blueberries the perfect food for Fourth of July celebrations. Add them to a bowl of strawberries, top with whipped cream, and you've got a healthy, patriotic dessert ready in no time.

Haas encourages using color as a way to add nutritional value to your diet. Color pleases the eye and encourages a healthy eating plan.

"It's a great way to ensure that you have a variety of nutrients because each of the colors -- the orange of squash to the bright blue of blueberries -- all are providing different nutrients," she said.

"The presentation is important ... It motivates you."

Color also works as a signpost -- of sorts. When your plate is colorful, "it's like a signal that you're doing well," Haas said.

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