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 that blueberries are good for you.
"Studies suggest that eating berries, including blueberries, is associated with a reduction in blood pressure," Dr. Avitzur said. "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. Products that look like they're loaded with blueberries are anything but.
For instance, blueberry pancake mix from Krusteaz has no blueberries or fruit of any kind in a long list of ingredients. Also, 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.
Kellogg's Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini-Wheats is blue on the outside, but the only blue thing in the cereal is a dye. 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."
Consumer Reports found some products that prominently display blueberries but have only blueberry juice in them. That juice comes way down on the list of ingredients, behind sugar and corn syrup.
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 products.