Blueberries have been officially recognized as the fruit of Major League Pickleball (MLP), and we’re surprised for two reasons. First, we had no idea that pickleball was this serious of a sport (it is!). And second, were pickles just too on the nose?

In any case, this announcement celebrates the nutritional benefits of blueberries, marking its new association with the rapidly growing sport of pickleball. But what even is it?

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, played on a smaller court with paddles and a plastic ball. Originating in 1965, pickleball has recently surged in popularity due to its accessibility, social nature, and health benefits. 

PickleballAleksander Saks/Unsplash

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Pickleball appeals to people of all ages, with one in five adult Americans, or approximately 48 million people, playing or having tried the sport. 

The game is easy to learn, making it popular among diverse age groups and fitness levels. Its social aspect encourages community engagement, while its health benefits promote an active lifestyle. 

As pickleball’s popularity continues to rise—at a whopping rate of 64 percent per year—the sport has partnered with the United States Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) to officially recognize blueberries as its fruit, celebrating both the sport and the berry’s nutritional appeal.

Benefits of blueberries

For everyday athletes, pickleball enthusiasts, and professional MLP players, antioxidant-packed blueberries offer significant health benefits.

One cup of blueberries contains 80 calories and provides a good source of fiber. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese, which are essential for maintaining energy levels and potentially improving recovery time. Additionally, blueberries are low in calories and nutrient-dense, making them an ideal snack or ingredient for players.

Blueberries.PexelsMelidiRoccoMeli di Rocco/Pexels

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Blueberries are a convenient and nutritious snack, making them an excellent choice for pickleball players looking to maintain a healthy diet and optimize their performance. They are easy to prepare—just rinse and go—and do not require peeling, pitting, or chopping. This convenience makes blueberries a perfect grab-and-go snack for both workdays and workouts.

The partnership between USHBC and MLP aims to promote the health benefits of blueberries to the pickleball community, encouraging players and fans to incorporate this nutritious fruit into their diets.

Blueberry recipes to play ball

To celebrate blueberries as the official fruit of pickleball, here are five delicious and nutritious blueberry recipes from the VegNews recipe vault that’ll help fuel your game.

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1Dreamy Vegan Blueberry Oat Milk Pound Cake

This light and sweet loaf cake is perfect for a post-game treat or brunch. Made with oat milk and packed with fresh blueberries, this pound cake is easy to make and provides a delicious way to add a few more blueberries into your diet. And the cake is topped with a simple glaze, adding an extra touch of sweetness. 

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2Vegan Blueberry Orange Bundt Cake

The combination of orange juice and blueberries gives this bundt cake a depth of flavor. It’s perfect for any occasion, whether as a pre-game snack or a celebratory dessert after a match. This cake is moist, flavorful, and full of antioxidants from the blueberries. 

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3Vegan Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

These mini blueberry cheesecakes are a healthy and wholesome dessert option. Made with a cashew-based filling and packed with fresh blueberries, these treats are perfect for a refreshing post-game dessert. They are easy to prepare and can be stored in the refrigerator for a quick and delicious treat. 

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4Easy Vegan Blueberry Nectarine Fruit Crisp

This fruit crisp combines the sweetness of blueberries and nectarines with a crunchy topping made from rolled oats and spices. It’s a simple and delicious dessert that can be enjoyed warm or cold, making it perfect for any time of the day. 

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5Vegan No-Knead Wild Blueberry Oregano Bread

This unique bread combines the sweetness of wild blueberries with the herbaceous flavor of fresh oregano. The no-knead method makes it easy to prepare, and the result is a delightful loaf perfect for serving with olive oil and vegan cheese at your next pick-up pickleball match. 

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