By Gerard KrewerUniversity of GeorgiaFor more than 60 years, the University of Georgia’sblueberry-breeding program has developed varieties adapted to thestate, where farmers now have the fifth-largest blueberryproduction in the nation.Growers have planted millions of blueberry bushes as a cash crop.Homeowners have planted countless bushes, too. Everyone knew thedelicious berries were great to eat. But only recently has theirhidden health value been revealed.It turns out that this humble fruit, native to the river basinsof south Georgia, is one of the world’s great health treasures.AntioxidantsBlueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, whichhelp human bodies prevent cancer, heart disease and stroke.Scientists have long known that blueberries contain vitamins A, Cand E. This is where some of the antioxidants are located.However, anthocyanins and other compounds, some of which providetheir rich blue color, are blueberries’ major sources ofantioxidants.Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and TuftsUniversity have shown that blueberry extract can improve themotor skills of both mice and humans.Mice fed blueberry extract had improved memory, too. Research isunder way to see if blueberries can improve human memory.Still moreBlueberries also contain the cancer-fighting compound, ellagicacid. And they have significant amounts of dietary fiber, whichhelps prevent colon cancer.Recent research by the UGA food scientists indicates thatphenolic compounds found in blueberries work against colon cancercell lines.These amazing berries contain a compound that helps preventurinary infections, too, by keeping bacteria from attaching tothe urinary tract lining.As you can see, blueberries have benefits from the top to thebottom. The harvest is in full swing in Georgia, too, so you canget fresh blueberries now from the grocery store or producemarket.Freeze ’emFrozen blueberries are another economical source of healthbenefits. You can pick you own at many Georgia farms and freezethem. Or you can buy them in plastic bags at the store.For the past year, I’ve been eating them almost every day with mybreakfast cereal. I’ve much felt better since I started regularlyincluding blueberries in my diet. If you’d like to plant blueberries in your yard, they’re fairlyeasy to care for and can provide years of health-enhancingberries.The on-line Georgia Extension publication, “Home GardenBlueberries,” (pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/l106-w.html)can show you how to grow them.Or ask your UGA Extension Service county agent, who can alsodirect you to any nearby pick-your-own blueberry farm.(Gerard Krewer is an Extension Service horticulturist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)
Fewer Queenslanders are applying for mortgages according to new research.Mr Luffman said the figures could indicate people were turning to credit to support their household and discretionary spending.“Given the current subdued growth in household incomes, and below-neutral consumer sentiment, it is understandable that Australians may be becoming more circumspect in their use of consumer credit products,” he said.Mortgage applications are a good indicator of homebuyer demand and housing turnover.It comes as Brisbane home prices recorded their slowest rate of growth in four years over the past financial year, rising just two per cent, according to CoreLogic. Fewer Queenslanders are applying for home loans according to new data. Picture: Chris PavlichThe finding comes after CoreLogic data revealed the number of homes up for auction across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth fell for the fourth straight week in the seven days to July 16.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home3 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor3 hours agoGET THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX HERENationally, consumer credit demand rose 10.3 per cent in the June quarter, driven mainly by a surge in personal loan applications, according to Equifax’s latest Quarterly Consumer Credit Demand Index.Credit card applications in Queensland rose 4.5 per cent in the three months to June, the second largest increase after Tasmania.Personal loan applications also picked up strongly in Queensland — jumping 19.6 per cent during the quarter.Extreme inner-city renovationDo these five things before you make an offerBuyers with a bad case of FOMO Fewer Queenslanders are applying for home loans, according to new research. Picture: Brendan Radke.FEWER Queenslanders are applying for home loans in another sign the state’s housing market is beginning to cool.Mortgage applications fell 3.4 per cent in Queensland during the June quarter, according to credit reporting agency Equifax.Nationally, home loan applications were down nearly one per cent during the quarter.Equifax senior general manager Angus Luffman said it marks the second consecutive quarter of declining mortgage applications, signalling the start of a “downward trend” in all states.“Any debate about whether the housing market is softening should now be put to rest,” Mr Luffman said.“We can clearly see that, even in the historically strong geographies on the eastern seaboard, mortgage application demand is slowing or already in decline.”
The €215bn Dutch asset manager PGGM is to invest $1bn (€880m) in a new reinsurer to be established in cooperation with Bermuda-based RenaissanceRe.The joint venture, named VermeerRe and also based in Bermuda, will reinsure US properties against natural disasters such as flooding, storms, tornadoes and earthquakes.In a joint statement, PGGM and RenaissanceRe said the Dutch firm would be the sole investor, taking an initial stake of €528m. This will be extended with an additional €352m “to pursue growth opportunities” next year.PGGM is the asset manager for the €206bn Dutch healthcare scheme PFZW. According to Eveline Takken-Somers, senior director of credit and insurance-linked investments at PGGM, the investment would increase PFZW’s current 2% allocation to insurance-linked securities to almost in line with its strategic allocation target of 2.5%.She added that the insurance investment contributed to the desired diversification within PFZW’s entire investment portfolio, and would also have an attractive risk-return profile, “as a financial crisis is no natural disaster”. Flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. VermeerRe will provide reinsurance to US properties for natural disasters.In a position paper, PGGM said that the risk exposure of the investment could be assessed in detail because of the “short contracts, sophisticated models and abundant data available”.Aditya Dutt, president of Renaissance Underwriting Managers, said the deal “continues our 20-year track record of creating and managing joint ventures that match well-underwritten portfolios of risk to diverse sources of capital”.PGGM and RenaissanceRe said that VermeerRe had received an A-rating for financial strength from US ratings agency AM Best, and had obtained approval in principle to be licensed and regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority as a Class 3B reinsurer.VermeerRe will be managed by Renaissance Underwriting Managers. RenaissanceRe – founded in 1993 – also has offices in the US, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Singapore.PGGM’s insurance track recordPFZW started investing in insurance in 2006. According to PGGM’s Takken-Somers, the holdings generated an annual return of 7% on average since then, even delivering a positive result in 2008.Takken-Somers highlighted that the portfolio’s purpose was also to accrue financial buffers for unpredictable events, and explained that PGGM’s risk exposure was comparable with that of its catastrophe bonds allocation.She said PGGM has focused on building strategic partnerships with top-tier reinsurance companies to improve access to and selection of risk since 2014.“We seek efficient implementation of our investments as we believe this leads to superior returns,” she added.Earlier this year, PGGM invested €352m in LeoRe, in a private transaction with reinsurer MunichRe. LeoRe insures the financial impact of natural disasters in America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.According to Maurice Wilbrink, spokesman for PGGM, the structure of LeoRe was different from VermeerRe as it involved a catastrophe bond issued in a partnership with MunichRe.