Berries For Health: 3 Summertime Treats

Summer-sweet berries pack a healing punch of antioxidant-rich flavor, so whip up these three seasonal dishes for your best health.

| August/September 2010



Berrry Recipes:

• Blackberry Cobbler
• Cranberry Sauce
• Berry Freezer Jam 

When a person speaks of the healing power of plants, herbs often come to mind first—the roots of echinacea, the leaves of mint or the flowers of chamomile. However, until recently berries were overlooked as important contributors to natural health. Is this because until recently the properties of berries hadn’t been studied? Or maybe it’s just that we can’t believe anything that tastes so sweet and delicious can be good for us. Whatever our prejudice may be, berries are packed full of amazingly healthful phytochemicals and flavonoids and shouldn’t
be overlooked.

All berries contain an array of vitamins and minerals, plus dietary fiber, but each berry’s unique mix of chemicals gives it a different health benefit. Generally, the darker the berry, the stronger its health benefits since the properties that make up the berry’s color are what also help our bodies fight disease.



The best berries for flavor and health benefits are those that have been shipped the least. Growing your own or purchasing from your local berry farm are the best choices for you, your palate and the environment. If you have a little space in your garden, it is easy to find a berry variety or two that will grow in your climate. If you can’t grow your own or live in an area where berry farms are few and far between, frozen and dried berries have been found to contain nearly the same antioxidant levels as freshly picked (and more than what is found in berries that have been shipped fresh over long distances).

Blueberries

Currently the star of the berry world, the blueberry is a powerhouse of phytochemicals. Studies by Tufts University have found that older rats fed blueberries daily significantly improved cognitive and circulatory function when tested against rats that ate no blueberries. In addition to helping your brain and heart, blueberries also contain lutein, an important carotenoid for maintaining eye health. Blueberries are related to many native temperate plants of the northwest and grow well in the backyards of the area, but don’t tolerate the heat of southern climates very well. 



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