How Picking the Right Blueberries Can Help Your Dog
Did you know the art of picking the perfect blueberry could make you a better pet parent and improve your best friend’s wellbeing? While it may sound farfetched, learning this skill could make the difference between helping or harming your dog.
How do you know what foods are good for your pet? First, rely on the research. Next, trust evolution. When animals ate things that killed them, the genes that told them it was ok to do that would not be passed onto future generations. So as animals evolved, their preferences for certain foods became hard-wired into their genes. For example, a puppy will pass up a broccoli floret dropped on the floor and instinctively go to its mother for milk.
But on the other hand, we know that dogs can sometimes be indiscriminate in their food choices and that’s why pet parents must be watchdogs. Research shows that blueberries are good for dogs but quality matters.
The Best Picks
High quality berries are free of injury and decay. They should be fully blue in color with little or no red at the stem end. And, they should appear as well as feel plump. U.S. Number 1 is the only specified grade for harvested blueberries which means they may have no more than 1 percent serious defects and no more than 13 percent total defects. Also, the grading specifies that the count of berries per ½ pint container must not exceed 250.
Researchers use a technique called oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) to test the antioxidant power of more than 100 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. Sites vary in terms of rankings but moringa claims the top spot worldwide followed by goji berries, turmeric, blueberries, chaga mushrooms, and green tea. For more info on just what ORAC is read here.
In terms of antioxidants, wild (lowbush) blueberries surpass cultivated (highbush) by 48%. Scientists attribute the high antioxidant capacity to anthocyanin, the phytonutrient responsible for the berry’s deep blue color.
The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) rates foods based on their vitamin and mineral content, phytochemical composition, and antioxidant capacity. Foods with the most nutrients per calorie have the highest rankings, and blueberries are at the top for nutrient density, with an ANDI score of 132.
Fresh Frozen vs Individual Quick Frozen (IQF)
Fresh frozen means berries are frozen the day they are harvested. The IQF type are produced by larger processors and the berries are soaked in a solution before freezing and laser-sorted. Unlike the IQF berries, fresh have their “bloom” intact, which is the whitish powder coating on the skin of each berry that protects it and helps maintain its just-picked freshness.
Research has shown that blueberries help improve mental acuity in older dogs. And, a recent study reveals that blueberry vinegar improves the memory of mice with amnesia. The fermented product could potentially be a promising food to help treat age-related amnesia/dementia.
The United States is the world’s largest producer of blueberries exporting almost 60 million pounds a year - valued at $107 million. Canada imports the most berries followed by Korea.
The Right Blueberry
Organic, raw blueberries are best. But, whether cultivated, wild, fresh or frozen, they are full of essential nutrients and fiber and high in antioxidants. A one cup serving of wild organic blueberries is 11g of sugar and 42 calories. An average size dog can have up to 10 berries per day.
While picking quality blueberries for your dog may have never crossed your mind, the health benefits of these berries is hard to ignore. Blueberries may be tiny, but they pack a powerful punch.