Berries: Energizing, Upbeat, Day-Brighteners
Notable Personality Factors:
Just about everybody looks forward to berry season, and with good reason! In addition to bringing a wonderful burst of flavor to fruit salads and smoothies, berries energize your spirit, uplift your mood, and brighten your day! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and currants (pick your berry of choice) are colorful, tasty, popular little fruits. Despite originating from different regions–the strawberry hails from Europe and the Americas, the raspberry originated in the Middle East, and currants come from central Asia–berries share one thing in common. What might that be? For thousands of years, cultures from all around the globe have relied on berries for their nutritional and therapeutic values! Let’s take a closer look.
...berries energize your spirit, uplift your mood, and brighten your day!
Therapeutic & Healing Powers:***
In spite of their small size, berries pack a big therapeutic punch. This can be attributed, at least in part, to their high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are the plant pigments responsible for the fruits’ coloration, and play an important role in protecting the berries from environmental damage. Once ingested, these flavonoids manifest into remarkable antioxidants. They protect against free radical damage and are anti-carcinogenic. Furthermore, the flavonoid content of berries prevents both the inflammation and degeneration of collagen and other connective tissues. By protecting small blood vessels and capillaries against leaking, berries also act as an inter-cellular cement.
It’s important to note that Anthocyanosides—flavonoids found in both the skin and substance of berries—enhance the benefits of vitamin C. This, in turn, protects against the hardening of the arteries and contributes to all kinds of nutritional benefits. In addition, the abundance of proanthocyanins, quercetin, 4-oxo-flavonoids, and other phytonutrients makes berries viricidal fruits that can be used to fight off infection. Meanwhile, blueberries help to treat diarrhea, billberry prevents macular degeneration and the development of cataracts, and cranberry is commonly prescribed to help treat bladder infections.
In addition to the phytonutrients and flavonoids described above, berries are a very good source of vitamins B1 and C. They are high in vitamin E, water-soluble fiber, and antioxidants. Berries are also rich in essential minerals. For example, blueberries are an excellent source of manganese—an important mineral for carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism—and berries in general are a good source of potassium.
Selection and Care:
It’s best to buy berries fresh and in season (typically in the Summer months). Select ripe, firm, well-shaped, brightly colored berries. Strawberries should be free of white or green tips, and raspberries should not show any blackening or mold. Avoid bruised or soft berries. Ideally, shop for organic berries, and use a biodegradable rinse on sprayed, non-organic brands.
Optimal Use and Combining:
As with all fruits, to maximize the nutritional and therapeutic value of berries, it’s best to consume them fresh, whole, and raw. With that in mind, berries mix well with apples, peaches, cherries, and grapes. They also complement banana and papaya. Most berries can hold their own with citrus, but, in general, do not match up as well with melons. Of course, berries add juicy flavor to nuts and granola. In Summer, few foods are as refreshing as a strawberry smoothie.
***This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.