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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


Berries and heart health

Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


Not only are berries a tasty treat, they are a healthy one too. The June 2013 issue of Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter reports on results published in the journal Circulation that, “women who ate the most strawberries and blueberries – three or more servings per week – were 34% less likely to suffer such an early heart attack.” The findings come from the Nurses Health Study II. This research followed about 93,600 25- to 42-year old women for 18 years, checking in with them periodically to see what they were eating and how it was affecting their health. The heart health benefits were likely attributed partly to the presence of anthocyanin, an antioxidant compound found naturally in bright red fruits like strawberries.


Berries offer other health benefits as well. One cup of strawberries provides 140% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, more than a whole medium orange. They also provide 16% of the recommended dietary fiber. This fiber content makes strawberries low on the glycemic index, meaning they help slow the body’s process of turning the berries into blood sugar, despite their sweetness. Strawberries also contain potassium, folate and more than 25% of the recommended manganese which helps process cholesterol.


Likewise, a cup of red raspberries has nearly 50% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and 30% of the recommended fiber, as well as some potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin A.


Berries can be enjoyed as a snack or dessert, in yogurt or a smoothie, or as a salad topper. Take advantage of fresh berries when they are in season, and remember that they can be canned, jammed, frozen or dried for a tasty and healthful part of one’s eating plan throughout the year. For more information about preserving berries, review the MU Extension publication Fruitful Canning.


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Last update: Monday, August 26, 2013