Berries including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are the jewel in the crown of the fruit world. They are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Even better they are super low in calories and both salt-free and fat-free.
All berries are high in vitamin C, the one nutrient most associated with fewer wrinkles. A mere 1/2 cup of strawberries ( 30 calories) has 70% of the RDA for vitamin C– ounce for ounce 60% more vitamin C than grapefruit.
IMO berries are the most delicious source of fiber. One cup raspberries ( 75 calories) yields 15 grams of fiber– more than 1/2 the RDA for this nutrient. By comparison 1/2 cup of cooked beans ( which are famous for their fiber) has the same 15 grams of fiber at twice the calorie count ( 300 calories).
But wait there’s more. Berries contain ellagic acid, a natural substance that seems to prevent certain cancers. And there’s more good news because ellagic acid doesn’t break down when cooked – and you can almost make the case that strawberry jam and blueberry pie have anti-cancer properties.
One last point. Berries, especially strawberries, are among the “dirty dozen”- fruits and vegetables that tend to be high in pesticides. Maybe their soft flesh absorbs more chemicals or they need extra fertilizer or pesticides to grow, but whatever the reason strawberries have more chemicals than we would like. If you eat a daily bowl of strawberries, consider buying those that are grown organically to get the health benefits without the chemicals.
In their fresh natural state, berries are full of nutrients, but many recipes add a boatload of sugar and fat. And keep in mind, that you lose most of the vitamin C when berries are cooked. I eat blueberries straight out of the box and raspberries with a blob of low-fat Greek yougurt and toasted almonds, but my favorite fresh berry dessert is strawberries and chocolate. Simply melt one ounce of organic dark chocolate ( 70%) in a microwave and stir it into one cup of organic sourcream ( Horizon makes a great one). The dark chocolate is packed with bioflavinoids and antioxidants and at least the sour cream is organic. Dip fresh ripe strawberries into 1/4 cup of the chocolate sauce for a nutrient packed snack or dessert.
Summer is the perfect time to dive into berries. They are affordable and often locally grown. Do you have any favorite berry recipes? I would love a healthy muffin or pancake recipe that includes berries.