It’s National Blueberry Month

Since they are now in season, July is a great month to discuss the health benefits of blueberries. Did you know that blueberries are native to North America and are grown in 35 states? What’s more, they’re an ingredient in more than 4,000 products, from muffins to pet food to cosmetics—and to think it all started in New Jersey.

The popularity of blueberries can be credited directly to Elizabeth Coleman White and Frederick V. Coville, who, succeeded in hybridizing wild blueberry plants to create a new domestic blueberry industry. They began their work at the White family farm, Whitesbog, in Browns Mills, Burlington County an area known for cranberry bogs and the infamous Pine Barrens. 

Although Washington and Georgia lead the country in terms of blueberry production, New Jersey is currently the fifth highest blueberry producing state in the U.S. Despite our state’s small size, New Jersey growers often register yields topping 56.7 million pounds of blueberries each year. Amazingly, over 80% of New Jersey’s blueberries are grown in Atlantic County and most of the blueberry harvest comes from a mere 8,800 acres. 

Many of New Jersey’s  blueberries are packaged at the Atlantic Blueberry Company at Hammonton. 

Living in New Jersey, we are lucky enough to have picking areas nearby—fun for the whole family! They make a great snack all on their own or enhance a meal, make stellar desserts or sauces. Plus, these vibrant berries pack a punch in vitamins and health benefits.  

Here are a few things blueberries can do for you:

#1: Blueberries are the #1 fruit with the highest antioxidant capacity. It beats out any other berry! These powerful antioxidants have been known to improve the immune system and prevent infections in the body (especially urinary tract infections.) 

#2: Blueberries can help with weight loss. Blueberries have fewer than 100 calories in a cup, making it a healthy pick for snacking. There have also been numerous studies, linking blueberries to the loss of stomach fat.

#3: The deeper the color of a blueberry, the richer they are in antioxidants, vitamins and medicinal perks. Go for the darkest berries!

#4: Blueberries can reduce the risk of cancer. Anthocyanins (which give the fruit its hue) have been studied and known to attack cancer-causing free radicals in the body.

#5: Blueberries for the brain! Numerous studies have shown that blueberries can help reduce the risk of memory loss. Brain food at its finest

A powerhouse treat

Leave it to Simply Fit to serve up a delicious chewy bar packed with 15 grams of protein!

If you haven’t tried these new bars yet, you’re in for a powerhouse treat! Now available in decadent Birthday Cake and unbeatable Chocolate Peanut Butter.

Whenever I have a craving, I grab one. I even give offer to share them with friends at the gym—this is my last one.

Time to order a new box from my on line shopping club!

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how great the Birthday Cake bars are! Not too sweet, great texture and taste exactly like a birthday cake!

So healthy and delicious for me!

POP!

When we decide to binge watch our favorite shows, this is a staple. It’s so good and tastes so fresh it adds to our binging enjoyment. We always bring it to movie night at the Clubhouse. Actually, it’s also a pretty good binge-worthy snack on it’s own. For some of us it’s a perfect midnight snack! Have you tried it yet? Simply Fit popcorn!

Water workouts

Swimming and water workouts put less stress on your joints than walking, dancing, or biking. If your feet, back, or joints hurt when you stand, water activities may be best for you. If you feel self-conscious about wearing a bathing suit, you can wear shorts and a T-shirt while you swim.

Exercising in water:

  • lets you be more flexible. You can move your body in water in ways you may not be able to on land.
  • reduces your risk of hurting yourself. Water provides a natural cushion, which keeps you from pounding or jarring your joints.
  • helps prevent sore muscles.
  • keeps you cool, even when you are working hard.

You don’t need to know how to swim to work out in water. You can do shallow- or deep-water exercises at either end of the pool without swimming. For instance, you can do laps while holding onto a kickboard and kicking your feet. You also can walk or jog across the width of the pool while moving your arms.

For shallow-water workouts, the water level should be between your waist and chest. During deep-water workouts, most of your body is underwater. For safety and comfort, wear a foam belt or life jacket.

If you’re worried that pool water will damage or mess up your hair, try these tips:

  • Use a swim cap to help protect your hair from pool chemicals and getting wet.
  • Wear a natural hairstyle, short braids, locs, or twists, which may be easier to style after a water workout.
  • Buy a shampoo to remove chlorine buildup, available at most drug stores, if your hair feels dry or damaged after a pool workout.

Take Action: Cover Up

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, you may be planning a full three days of being outdoors—basking in the sun; at the beach; at a barbeque or at the park. Since you will be out in the bright and shiny sun’s rays, you will want to take these simple steps to help prevent skin cancer.

Cover up with long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants or a long skirt. Clothes made from tightly woven fabrics are best.

Wear a hat. A hat with a wide brim that protects your face and neck works best. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. If you wear a baseball cap or visor, be sure to protect your ears and the back of your neck with sunscreen.

Wear sunglasses that block UV light. This will help protect your eyes and the skin around them from sun damage. Wrap-around sunglasses are best, because they block UV rays from the side.

Stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun’s rays are the strongest from mid-morning to late afternoon. Try to stay out of the sun during these hours. If you are outside, stay in the shade – like under a tree or umbrella.

Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 or higher. Use sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, also called broad spectrum sunscreen. My dermatologist recommends using a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad spectrum coverage. My favorite sunscreen that meets all of those requirements is Sun Shades Sport. Sun Shades Sport’s principal ingredient is Avobenzone. Avobenzone gives my skin a highly effective broad spectrum protection. The photostablized avobenzone maintains its UVA protective power even during long periods of sun exposure. I especially like that I can spray it on and it sticks!

One thing you always need to do is check the expiration date on the bottle to make sure it’s not out of date—especially if you found a bottle from last summer.

To get the most protection:

  • Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. UV rays can still harm your skin through the clouds.
  • Plan ahead – put sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside. Put on more sunscreen every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat.
  • Be sure to use enough sunscreen (a handful). Don’t forget to apply it to your ears, hands, feet, the back of your neck, and any part of your scalp that isn’t covered by hair.
  • Use lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips.
  • If you wear very lightweight clothing (like a beach cover-up or thin T-shirt), put sunscreen on under your clothes.

The Basics: am I at risk for skin cancer?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning beds, tanning booths, or sunlamps.

Anyone can get skin cancer. The risk is highest for people with:

  • Fair (light-colored) skin with freckles
  • Blond or red hair
  • Blue or green eyes

You are at higher risk for the most dangerous type of skin cancer (melanoma) if you have:

  • Unusual moles (moles that change color, grow unevenly, or change in texture)
  • A large number of moles (more than 50)
  • A family history of melanoma or unusual moles
  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • A personal history of many blistering sunburns, especially when you were a child or teenager

Find out more about unusual moles and melanoma risk. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you are concerned.