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Are wild blueberries more nutrition dense than cultivated blueberries?

frozen wild blueberries
Frozen wild blueberries vs fresh cultivated blueberries

Wild blueberry bushes also known as lowbush varieties are not planted but instead grow from underground rhizomes that send up shoots and stems. Wild blueberries are picked from wild bushes or from farmed bushes. Cultivated blueberries also known as highbush varieties are generally grown in greenhouses and therefore are available around the year. Wild blueberries are said to have a higher nutritional value than cultivated blueberries on account of growing wild or in the open and thereby having to be more resilient.

Does it matter if wild blueberries are consumed frozen?

Wild blueberries are usually picked in late summer and due to the short period of harvesting they are generally available in grocery stores in frozen form. Since the berries are picked fresh and flash frozen they are said to retain their nutritional value. In certain cases, frozen blueberries may have more nutritional value than fresh berries as there may be deterioration due to handling and transportation in fresh form.

A study that measured the antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from fresh and frozen blueberries showed there was no significant difference. Frozen samples showed no deterioration in anthocyanin levels during 3 months.

Another study showed that even when blueberries were stored at 25 Deg C or 77 F the anthocyanin content was reduced after 2 weeks. However total antioxidant activity was not significantly reduced.

Physical differences between wild & cultivated blueberries

Wild blueberries are smaller and denser than cultivated blueberries. They have less water content and so you get more wild blueberries by weight than their cultivated counterparts.

Wild blueberries have a tougher skin that is better suited to processing and baking. Their shape and color also hold up better in baked goods.

Wild blueberries are sweeter and more flavorful than cultivated blueberries which have a smoother skin texture and more pulp. Frozen wild blueberries taste delicious when added to yogurts or icecreams.

frozen wild blueberries and fresh cultivated blueberries
Frozen wild blueberries vs fresh cultivated blueberries

Benefits of wild blueberries

Wild blueberries are a very important source of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a group of polyphenols or plant phytochemicals that have many benefits - one of them being to help in metabolism. In a 3 month study on mice which were fed a high fat diet, it was shown that wild blueberries help to reduce inflammatory response caused by such a diet as well as systolic blood pressure.

In addition to flavonoids, wild blueberries have also been found to contain other compounds such as flavonols, phenolic acids and pro-anthocyanidins and vitamins C and E. Anthocyanins have been found to reduce oxidative stress on cells, bacterial levels and blood sugar levels.


Int J Circumpolar Health. 2013 Aug
The antioxidant level of Alaska’s wild berries: high, higher and highest.
Dinstel RR, Cascio J, Koukel S.

University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AL, USA.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2013 Nov
Phytochemicals in lowbush wild blueberry inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7 by damaging its cell membrane.
Lacombe A, Tadepalli S, Hwang CA, Wu VC.

School of Food and Agriculture, The University of Maine , Orono, Maine.
J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Aug;24(8):1508-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.12.010. Epub 2013 Mar 1.
Wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption improves inflammatory status in the obese Zucker rat model of the metabolic syndrome.
Vendrame S, Daugherty A, Kristo AS, Riso P, Klimis-Zacas D.

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA.
J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Mar
Effect of Time and storage temperature on anthocyanin decay and antioxidant activity in wild blueberry ( Vaccinium angustifolium ) powder.
Fracassetti D, Del Bo’ C, Simonetti P, Gardana C, Klimis-Zacas D, Ciappellano S.

Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano, Italy.

PLoS One. 2014 Dec 12;9(12):e114790. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114790. eCollection 2014.
Wild blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) alleviate inflammation and hypertension associated with developing obesity in mice fed with a high-fat diet.
Mykkänen OT1, Huotari A2, Herzig KH3, Dunlop TW2, Mykkänen H1, Kirjavainen PV4.

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