Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Cranberries.
How I love berry season! Besides being delicious, berries are one of the best nutritional bargains around. Low in fat, carbs, and calories, but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, these yummy nuggets of flavor not only contribute to overall health, but may even help prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as slowing the aging process. And thanks to the freezer, we can have the advantages of berries all year long.
Basic Berry Nutrition:
Berries are not only sources of concentrated flavor, but neat little packets of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. For example, a cup of sliced strawberries contains a whole day’s requirement for Vitamin C. A cup of blackberries contain a day’s worth of manganese, while the same amount of raspberries supplies a third of our daily niacin needs.
Why are Berries So Good for Us?
The seeds of berries are mainly spread by birds and other animals – the bright colors of the berries help attract those seed-distributors. The skins of berries have to be thin enough to be easy for them be eaten, but at the same time not be vulnerable to pests and diseases. The chemicals which cause the color and protect the plant also turn out to be good for us.
Many of these phytonutrients (such as anthocyanins, quercetin, and ellagic acid) have an antioxidant effect – that is, they counter the natural oxidation in the body that contributes to aging of the tissues and many degenerative illnesses such as cancer, dementia, and damage to the arteries. One recent study of blueberries in the diet even showed improved memory of middle-aged rats. In fact, it’s hard to think of a part of the body that isn’t positively affected by these nutrients. Blueberries are especially high in these chemicals, perhaps the highest of all fruits.
Laura Dolson- holds a B.S. in physical therapy, an M.A. in clinical psychology, and she completed the coursework and training for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
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