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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well

 

Berries pack a healthful punch

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Bates County, University of Missouri Extension

 

Variety of fresh berriesIt’s no secret that berries are a healthy choice. They may become even more appealing as new research indicates that eating berries may help stave off the cognitive decline and memory loss that comes with aging.

 

Data from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study shows that the women who ate blueberries and/or strawberries delayed memory decline (from aging) up to 2 years compared to those who did not eat berries. The participants gained this benefit from consuming just two or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week.

 

Even if you are not worried about memory loss, berries still pack a healthful punch for just a few calories.

 

  • Strawberries and blueberries are rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the pigment in plants that give them their dark red or blue coloring. One of their functions is to help move blood into the brain. Anthocyanins have been related to a broad range of health benefits such as vision and heart health.
     
  • Strawberries have only 22 calories and five grams of carbohydrates, and they provide two grams of fiber for every half-cup serving. To enjoy them at their best, strawberries must be handled with care. To wash strawberries, hold them under gently running cool water just long enough to remove the dirt. Don’t soak strawberries as they will absorb water and lose flavor. For the best flavor, wash strawberries just before you are going to use them. Strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days.
     
  • Blackberries have 37 calories, nine grams of carbohydrates and four grams of fiber for every half cup. Be sure to use or freeze your blackberries soon after picking because they spoil quickly.
     
  • Blueberries have 41 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates and two grams of fiber in a half cup. Like other berries, blueberries are a good source of vitamin C.
     
  • Raspberries have 30 calories, seven grams of carbohydrates and four grams of fiber for every half cup. Raspberries are very fragile and easily damaged. If you buy them fresh, eat them within one to two days. Wash raspberries just before you are going to eat them because they can absorb the water which will dilute the taste.

 

June is the season for berries. But if you want to enjoy fresh fruit year-round, berries can be frozen for later use. Here are a few freezing tips:

 

  • One way to freeze strawberries is to add cup sugar to one quart of whole strawberries and mix thoroughly. Let stand 15 minutes and then pack into containers leaving headspace for expansion. Seal and freeze. (from National Center for Home Food Preservation)
     
  • Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries can be frozen whole.
     
  • It is not recommended that you wash blueberries before you freeze them as that will make for a tougher skin when you are ready to use them. Wash them just before you are going to use them.

 

There are many ways to add berries to a healthful diet: sprinkle them on cereal, add them to yogurt, use them in salads or enjoy berry toppings on pancakes. You could also just enjoy sweet, delicious berries on their own. However you choose to eat them, you can savor the flavor now and reap the benefits later.

 


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Last update: Monday, June 19, 2017