What's your favorite way to enjoy blueberries? Raw, in cereal? Cooked in a pie filling? Baked into muffins?
If it's the latter two, a new study suggests the cooking and baking process could affect the polyphenol levels of the blueberries. Polyphenols are plant compounds that are believed to give fruits like blueberries their health benefits.
Researchers from the University of Reading, the University of Düsseldorf and the University of Northumbria found that cooking, proofing (the time during which dough rises) and baking all seem to alter the polyphenol levels, with some polyphenol levels increasing and some decreasing.
For instance, the levels of anthocyanins -- which are responsible for the hue of these fruits -- decreased by 10 percent after applying these three methods to blueberries. Meanwhile, phenolic acid levels increased after applying these methods to the blueberries, while levels of quercetin -- an antioxidant flavonoid -- didn't seem to be affected at all by any of the processes.
However, researchers noted more study is needed to determine how exactly these alterations in polyhenol levels actually affect health. "Due to their possible health benefits, a better understanding of the impact of processing is important to maximize the retention of these phytochemicals in berry-containing products," they wrote in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study.
Of course, it's no secret that cooking some produce can affect their healthfulness -- for good and bad. Everyday Health reported that tomatoes, for instance, actually become more healthful when they're cooked, while cooking broccoli too long can destroy the enzymes that give the vegetable its cancer-fighting abilities. To see how certain cooking methods affect the healthfulness of vegetables, click over to Everyday Health.