Blueberries are touted as a super health food. Eager to capitalize on this, manufacturers of prepared foods are plastering the berries all over their packaging.
Consumer Reports finds just because it's blue on the outside doesn't necessarily mean it's blue on the inside.
Fresh blueberries stacked in the produce aisle look luscious, and many shoppers are aware of their healthy reputation.
Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports medical adviser, says there is science to back up the claims.
Dr. Avitzur says, "Studies suggest that eating berries, including blueberries, is associated with a reduction in blood pressure. Not only that, but it may help stop the growth of cancer cells and stave off memory loss."
But if you think you're getting those benefits in packaged foods...think again.
Jamie Kopf, Consumer Reports, says, "We found products that look like they're loaded with blueberries that are anything but."
For instance-the blueberry pancake mix from Krusteaz. There are no blueberries or fruit of any kind in a long list of ingredients.
Kopf says, "Keep an eye out for disclaimers like "artificially flavored" and "Imitation blueberries," which in this case are made of palm oil, cellulose gum, and several dyes. It's very important to check the list of ingredients."
And Kellogg's Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini-Wheats? Blue on the outside, but the only blue thing in the cereal is a dye-blue 2 lake.
A Kellogg's company spokesperson says, "The term "Blueberry Muffin" is used to describe the flavor...and the product is labeled in compliance with laws and regulations."
Kopf says, "We found some products that prominently display blueberries have only blueberry juice in them, and that comes way down on the list of ingredients, behind sugar and corn syrup."
And Ocean Spray's Blueberry Craisins are not dried blueberries at all-but cranberries "infused" with blueberry juice.
As with most fruits and vegetables, Consumer Reports says it's best to eat blueberries before they...or their juice...end up in packaged foods.
As we head into winter and fresh fruit becomes harder to find, Consumer Reports says frozen berries can be a good substitute, as they retain most of their vitamins.
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