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Let's talk about food: blueberries for horses

When I was growing up we had three channels on the television, Walter Cronkite was the go-to guy for news, dogs ate table scraps and if you were lucky enough to own a horse it grazed with cows.   We had Superman but there were no super models, super-sized meals, and certainly no super foods.   So, when I heard that blueberries were a "SUPER FOOD" it struck me as little more than hyperbole; an exaggerated claim meant to sell fruit.

I was wrong.

Blueberries ARE little antioxidant wonders.  A study in China compared the antioxidant capacity of blueberries, blackberries and strawberries and found that blueberries outscored the competition with both higher antioxidant capacity and a greater number of specific antioxidants: phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274736/)  Way to go little blue!

Wild blueberries have more anthocyanins than domestically produced berries, which is why they are used in our Chock Full'a Chia Blueberry-Apple Spice biscuit.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18052240)  I love the rich color we get from the wild blueberries, but I purposefully selected them because they offer a higher antioxidant profile for your horse.

Looking beyond the big words: what are flavonoids, anthocyanins and polyphenols?    

Polyphenols are a large class of chemical compounds synthesized by fruits, vegetables, teas, cocoa and other plants.   Polyphenols are divided into several groups, one of which is represented by flavonoids.   These compounds are known to possess certain health benefits. For instance, polyphenols have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and other biological properties, and research indicates that they may protect from oxidative stress that leads to some diseases.   Polyphenols also play an important role as a prebiotic, increasing the ratio of beneficial bacteria in your gut. 

Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites thought to provide health benefits through cell signalling pathways and antioxidant effects. Plants produce flavonoids as a protection against parasites, oxidative injury and harsh climatic conditions. Flavonoids are further divided in several subclasses: anthocyanins, flavanols, flavanones, flavonols, flavones and isoflavones.  Anthocyanins are found in the pigment that gives blueberries their gorgeous blue color.   So, plants rich in flavonoids and polyphenols are very, very good for a body.  Yours.  Mine.  Your horses.    

If you're still not impressed, check out the nutrition profile of these little guys. One cup of raw blueberries provides:

  • 1.1 grams protein
  • 0.5 gram fat
  • 3.6 grams dietary fiber
  • 28.6 micrograms vitamin K 
  • 0.5 milligram manganese 
  • 14.4 milligrams vitamin C 
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine 
  • 0.1 milligram riboflavin 
  • 0.8 milligram vitamin E 
  • 0.1 milligram copper 

In addition to the nutrients listed above, blueberries also contain niacin, vitamin A, folate, pantothenic acid, zinc, iron, magnesium and phosphorus along with other beneficial compounds, including anthocyanin, phytonutrients, resveratrol and pterostilbene. 

It is this profile, combined with the highly palatable and extraordinary nutrition of chia, that led to my decision to create a wild blueberry biscuit for horses.   

Here's to happy and healthy horses!

 

~Mary

   

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