Berry season has begun in Vermont and with the sudden change to hot temperatures, they are ripening as fast as folks can pick 'em. Of all the fruit choices we have, berries have the most antioxidant punch. They are lower on the glycemic index and are great choices for superfood snacks, smoothie and salad additions.
It is very important to purchase berries locally from an organic farm. Strawberries, for instance, are #1 on the World Health Organization's Dirty Dozen list; meaning that if they are not organic, they carry the most toxins of all the fruits and vegetables, absorbing ground toxins as well as fertilizer and insect treatments more than any of the others. Most important to get local berries in season when they are at prime ripeness and thus, prime nutritional value. Purchased in grocery stores, they are picked ahead of ripeness for shipping. The other alternative, especially in colder climates, is to get fresh frozen organic. These are picked at proper ripeness and then frozen to retain all their antioxidant and health impact.
We love having our strawberries ready for the Fourth of July, but once they've come and gone, no need to wait until next year's crop. Freezing our own is a great way to have fresh berries into winter and beyond. They are also available to put into your morning smoothie drinks, continuing to add to the antioxidant content every day. They help keep free radicals, which are unstable, inflammatory molecules that can damage cells. Berries help protect your cells and reduce risk of disease. Berries can improve blood sugar levels or reduce levels in people with insulin resistance. One reason is because they are full of good water soluble fiber which reduces the calorie content, slows food digestion for fuller feeling and better digestion.
Berries contain a number of highly nutritive vitamins and minerals. Not only do they help reduce inflammation but may reduce risk of heart disease as well as other health problems. Berries help to lower cholesterol. According to Pubmed a controlled study of obese people, those eating 50 grams of blueberries for 8 weeks had a 28% reduction in oxidized LDL levels.
Berries help contribute to healthy skin and reduce some forms of cancer as they reduce tumor growth factor. They are able to improve and protect blood vessels from clotting and high blood pressure. They are able to be incorporated into almost all types of specialty diets. Thus berries are a great addition to our food intake for overall improved health with continued use.
Strawberries are high in Vitamin C & folates, minerals manganese, potassium, iodine, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and copper. Also contain polyphenols like flavinoids, lignans and tannins that help prevent DNA damage and lower cholesterol.
Blueberries contain a number of bioactive compounds including polyphenols, phenolic acid and stilbene derivatives. They are a high source of soluble fiber. They reduce risk of coronary, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease.
Raspberries contain essential minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, potassium, and fatty acids. Another excellent source of vitamin C they help keep elasticity in our blood vessels and lower cholesterol. Raspberries in any form - fruit or tea leaf also strengthens and supports the uterus and female hormones, especially during pregnancy.
Blackberries are a source of minerals, Vitamin A & B, calcium. Cultivated in Europe for thousands of years, they are known for their medicinal properties. The juice has been used to treat infections of the mouth and eye. They have been known to play a role in reducing cancer, cardiovascular complications and other related disease.
As you can see, not only do berries fit any meal or dessert menu with beautiful color, but they supply hidden health secrets to keep our quality of life strong. Find ways to add these power packed foods into your diets. Fresh, frozen or dried, they should become some of our staples of health.
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Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.