Muffins are a type of dense, crumbling bread usually baked in single, cupcake sized and shaped servings. They’re usually flavored with sweet ingredients, such as chocolate, fruits and nuts, with blueberries being among the most popular. The wet dough of whole grain blueberry muffins is made from milled flour of the entire seeds of grain crops, such as wheat and oats. In contrast, refined flour is made only from the energy-rich, interior flesh of the seeds. Many enjoy whole grain blueberry muffins, and there are good health reasons for eating them.
Cereal grains, the most important food in the world, are the seeds of plants, primarily grasses. Structurally, seeds are not unlike eggs. In their center is the germ, or embryo, containing essential minerals and proteins, as well as the genetic information for a mature plant. It is imbedded in a large mass called its endosperm, composed mostly of starch, that provides fuel for the plant’s early growth. Finally, the seed is encased in a protective, hard outer shell called its bran.
The entire seed can be cooked and eaten. More commonly, particularly with wheat, the seeds are ground into flour of various degrees, from coarse to powder. In addition to the carbohydrate sugars of starch, the nutrients of the germ and the dietary fibers of the bran are retained. Many professional dieticians, even the national policies of some countries, extol the preferred healthful benefits of consuming food made with whole grain flour. Medical evidence strongly indicates that it reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The basic ingredients to make whole grain blueberry muffins are: whole wheat flour, milk, eggs, butter, sugar and some baking powder to leaven the resulting dough. Whole fresh blueberries are folded into the mix, which is more the texture of a batter. This is poured into a pan molded as individual cups, either lightly oiled or lined with paper. The dough rises as it bakes in the oven, often forming a crusty cap. Allowed first to cool, whole grain blueberry muffins are usually eaten at room temperature, most popularly for breakfast.
Blueberries are native to the colder climates of North America, but crops have been introduced to Europe as well. They are rich in vitamins and other antioxidants which are believed to prevent the premature death of living cells. Some chemicals isolated from blueberries have been tested and confirmed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Other substances tested suggest they might have the effect of inhibiting the progress of some chronic human diseases, including cancer. Some dieticians have dubbed blueberries, “a super food,” for their apparent health benefits.