Friday, April 27, 2007


Berries are delicious gifts from nature. If you have ever had the pleasure of picking berries right from a garden or gathering wild berries in the woods, you already know how delicious berries are. The most popular berries are naturally sweet, and don't require much effort to make them into a tasty treat. Just rinse and serve them for a healthy, easy snack or dessert.

Berries in general are a good source of vitamins and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are components of fruits or vegetables that may help to prevent diseases, and perhaps even help to treat some disorders. For instance, cranberries and blueberries contain a substance will help prevent or treat painful bladder infections. Extracts from blueberries and strawberries have been shown to have anti-cancer properties in laboratory settings. Red raspberries have also demonstrated similaranti-cancer properties in the lab. Dark colored berries like black raspberries contain powerful antioxidants which may help to slow down the aging process and keep us healthier. Berries also contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision, especially blueberries and raspberries. Hopefully, further research on the different phytochemicals found in berries will prove to be fruitful.

A cup of strawberries contains over 100 mg of vitamin C, almost as much as a cup of orange juice. We need vitamin C for a healthy immune system and for strong connective tissue to keep away the wrinkles. Strawberries also add a bit of calcium, magnesium, folic acid, and potassium and only 53 calories. A cup of blueberries offers a smaller amount of vitamin C and minerals, but don't forget about the lutein and phytochemicals for only 83 calories. A cup of cranberries is similar, but with only 44 calories. One cup of raspberries offers vitamin C and potassium for 64 delicious calories. There are other berries as well that offer similar nutrition and healthful benefits, such as loganberries, currants, gooseberries, lingonberries, and bilberries

For the best berries, find berry farms that pick them fresh or allow you to pick your own. The healthiest berries would be found on farms that don't use chemical pesticides. When you buy berries in a store, look for ripe, colorful, yet firm bodies, with no sign of mold or mushy spots, and gently wash the berries before you serve them. Berries can also be found in the frozen section of the grocery store. Once they thaw, they will not be as firm as freshly picked berries, but they will still contain all the nutritional benefits of fresh berries.

Berries are fabulous when they are served whole, without anything added, but for a little flair, try serving a mixture of your favorite berries with just a touch of whipped cream and nuts. Another way to serve them is to sprinkle a bowl full of berries with granola and add a splash of half and half or an alternative such as soy or rice milk. Berries to some palates taste better with some sweetening, especially gooseberries, lingonberries, and cranberries [they are tasty, but very tart]. Berries can also be combined with other healthy foods such as whole grain muffins and bread [just add them as baking ingredients]. They can also be used to make excellent jams, jellies, pies, cobblers and other desserts.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home