Health food heroes # 4 – Blueberries and coffee

Last time on Health Food Heroes we covered lemons and dark chocolate. Today our two candidates are blueberries and coffee.

Whether you're a healthy eating enthusiast or you're just dipping your toes into the world of good food choices, read on and you may just learn something new about these food heroes which will make you pop them into your produce bag.

As we're all about reducing the stress that single use plastic bags puts on our planet, the lightweight yet strong tulle material of our bags means they have a two kilogramme capacity – now that's a lot of fruit, and you'll still have a free hand to pick up that coffee. 

1. Blueberries 

What is it?

These small, plump berries are the fruit of a flowering plant, with a small "crown" of sorts on the top. When ripe, their skin turns a deep indigo blue, inspiring their common name, blueberry. They have a sweet, yet slightly tangy taste, becoming sweeter as they ripen. 

After a first attempt in the 1950s, blueberries were successfully introduced to Australia in the 1970s, according to the Australian Blueberry Growers Association. If you're interested, you can also grow your own at home, or just look out for fresh ones during our summer months.

What makes it a food hero?

While blueberries may look unassuming, they are fit to burst with antioxidants and vitamins. The Australian Blueberry Growers Association informs us that eating just half a cup of these small berries provides many health benefits, and they contain bucket loads of antioxidants to fight off free radicals which threaten our health.

Additionally, the fruit is naturally low in calories, while being high in vitamin C and fibre, says WebMD writer Chloe Thompson. According to New Zealand blueberry supplier Mamaku Blue, the berries also contain blood-sugar-lowering anthocyanins, as well as cancer-fighting ellagic acid. 

What can I do with them?

Blueberries are a beautifully refreshing treat, with their more balanced taste making them suitable for those not fans of overly sweet fruit. Blueberries are also found in a variety of baking recipes (muffins, anyone?) as well as being a great fruit to add to a smoothie or juice to fill up your stainless steel drink bottle.

2. Coffee 

What is it?

It seems you can't walk through many metropolitan areas in the world these days without bumping into a cafe every few minutes. The worldwide phenomenon had its humble beginnings in Africa before the drinking sensation spread to Eastern nations like Yemen and Arabia. If you're interested into delving deeper into coffee's illustrious history, have a read of our coffee FAQs.

We know coffee today as that rich, roasted aroma of espresso, often crowned with a mountain of foam or cream. The caffeinated nature of coffee beans provides us with a burst of energy, although this isn't always an immediate reaction.  

What makes it a food hero?

For many of us, coffee achieves hero status just by keeping us awake and alert for that little bit longer. Harvard University's Dr Rob van Dam tells us that research shows coffee can also help defend against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and liver cancer.

"There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health," says Dr Frank Hu, professor for the Harvard School of Public Health.

But before we go brandishing our reusable coffee cups and declaring our morning latte a health necessity, Dr van Dam reminds us that coffee is an incredibly complex product, and as such, can be good for some things, and not so good for others. Moderation is still recommended with coffee intake, as well as limiting the sugary flavoured syrups, milk and cream many of us tend to enjoy with it.

What can I do with it?

For those lucky enough to have their own espresso making contraptions in the kitchen, you can indulge in a good coffee in the comfort of your own home. If not, make sure you are bringing your reusable coffee cup with you when you go out for that next caffeine hit, so your can enjoy your coffee with an eco-friendly conscience.