The Rap on Berries
I have to admit the “what’s cooking” question can challenge the best of us in the food universe, but a visit to the farmer’s market can provide the solution in solving this dining dilemma. On my most recent visit I was drawn to the raspberries and blueberries.
The berry family has plenty of positives to benefit those on the path to well-being. They are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, fiber and folate. Additionally they contain heaps of antioxidants which aid in heart health, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and bad cholesterol and preventing blood clots. Adding to these umbrella benefits, the individual berries bring other health benefits to the table.
Raspberries are available in red, gold, purple and black, but the reds are the most popular. Raspberries are low in calories, and sodium; they are an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Red raspberries also contain manganese, copper and Vitamin K. The richly colored red raspberry is high in both antioxidants and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are defined by the American Cancer Society as plant compounds that include lycopene, resveratrol and carotenoids that are thought to have health protecting qualities.
The phytonutrients contained in raspberries aid in lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. Though the research is continuing recent data indicates the potential for the fruit to play a role in obesity management.
Raspberries are delicate and should be gently washed in cool water and patted dry just before using them. They are more flavorful if allowed to come to room temperature before eating, rather than eating them as soon as they come out of the refrigerator.
Blueberries, labeled as one of the “superfoods” are also high in antioxidants including the phytonutrient anthocyanins. It is the anthocyanins that give the fruit the deep blue-purple color. The fruit is low in calories, sodium-free and a good source of vitamins C and K, manganese, fiber and copper.
Blueberry consumption is linked to antioxidant support, with a protective effect on the entire body in addition to the cardiovascular system. There is evidence that blueberries can protect the retina from damage from sunlight, and assist in maintaining the blood-sugar balance in people affected by type 2 diabetes or who are insulin resistant. Recent research indicates that consumption of blueberries may play a role in improving memory and delaying the onset of age-related cognitive problems.
As with raspberries, blueberries require gentle washing and patting dry just before using, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Blueberries can be frozen but for optimum nutrition content, fresh is best.
As for what’s cooking—fresh berry salads tossed with arugula and assorted baby lettuce plus toasted nuts; berries and cottage cheese or Greek-style yogurt; fruit smoothies made with almond milk; grilled pork tenderloin with blueberries or raspberries; whole-grain pizza spread with Greek-style yogurt, and toppings of thin-sliced ham and berries of course!
Take Away: Raspberries and blueberries have nutrient star status. Add them to your meals as part of your well-being lifestyle plan.