Blueberry pancakes for breakfast jump start your metabolism with carbohydrates, protein and B vitamins that turn food into energy. They also give you a boost of three nutrients especially vital for women: calcium, iron and folate. However, blueberry pancakes are often high in fat and calories, so they should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
One 6-inch blueberry pancake made from classic ingredients -- all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, melted butter, milk and fresh blueberries -- has 171 calories and 4.7 grams of protein. It also has 7 grams of total fat, which includes 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 43 milligrams of cholesterol.
To keep your bones strong and lower the chance of developing osteoporosis, you need a regular daily supply of calcium. Your body continuously replaces old bone with new, so consuming enough calcium is a lifelong requirement. Calcium also helps stimulate nerve impulses and muscle contractions. If you don’t have enough circulating in your blood to support these critical roles, your body will take calcium away from the bones. One 6-inch blueberry pancake has 16 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium.
Two nutrients crucial for women are iron and folate. Women need enough iron to replace its loss through menstruation. During pregnancy, even more iron is necessary to support both mom and baby. Folate’s role in producing new cells is so essential that it can prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. These birth defects occur in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they’re pregnant, so including folate in your daily diet is the best way to support a baby during those early weeks. One 6-inch blueberry pancake has 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate, 7 percent of pre-pregnancy iron needs and 5 percent of the amount needed for pregnant women.
Eating one blueberry pancake gives you 7 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 5 percent of zinc, which are both nutrients your immune system needs to work properly. Your skin stops bacteria, viruses and toxins from entering your body. Vitamin A regulates the growth of cells that make up your skin, so it supports the immune system and also has the added benefit of maintaining healthy skin. Zinc helps create proteins used for a variety of roles in the immune system. If you don’t get enough zinc, the number of cells available to fight invading pathogens goes down, leaving you more susceptible to illness.
Adding blueberries to pancakes gives a boost of plant-based substances called flavonoids. In nature, flavonoids give blueberries their color, but when you eat flavonoids, they become active compounds that help keep you healthy. As antioxidants, flavonoids fight system-wide inflammation. Blueberries are especially rich in a group of flavonoids -- anthocyanidins -- that may support mental ability as you age. Older women who ate more flavonoids maintained their cognitive ability longer compared to women who ate less, according to research published in the July 2012 issue of the “Annals of Neurology.”
Replace the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour and you’ll get a significant boost of fiber, calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Swap some of the flour with wheat bran, oat bran or flaxseed. Add a handful of walnuts for healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eliminate the butter or use vegetable oil instead, which removes the saturated fat and cholesterol and replaces it with healthy unsaturated fats. Use low-fat milk because it has one-fourth the fat of whole milk.
- Merck Manual Home Health Handbook: Calcium
- March of Dimes: Vitamins and Minerals During Pregnancy
- Yale School of Medicine: Nutrition Before Pregnancy
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- Linus Pauling Institute: Nutrition and Immunity
- Linus Pauling Institute: Flavonoids
- USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods
- Annals of Neurology: Dietary Intakes of Berries and Flavonoids in Relation to Cognitive Decline
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Pancakes, Blueberry, Prepared From Recipe
- Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images