Eat More Berries for a Healthy Heart and Brain

Dietary surveys reveal that berry-rich diets are associated with: healthy body weight, a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and improvements in mood and cognitive function. 

The health benefits of berries are well known so it is surprising that berry consumption remains low. On average, a person living in the United States consumes a mere one tablespoon of berries per week.

The bottom line is that berries are rich in nutrients that support overall health and wellbeing. We need to eat more of them.

Berries are packed with vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants. One cup of raspberries has only 65 calories yet provides 53  percent of the daily value of vitamin C and 8 grams of fiber (about 28 percent of the daily value).. The vitamin C in berries supports healthy hair, nails, and skin, and also aids iron and calcium absorption. The fiber in berries supports digestion and weight management. The magnesium and potassium in berries support cardiovascular health.

Berries have four times more antioxidant activity than most other fruits, and 10 times more than most vegetables. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and chronic disease risk by scavenging potentially harmful free oxygen radicals.

How can I incorporate more berries into my lifestyle. Set a reasonable goal such as one-half to one cup a day and think outside the box! Toss them into salads, try a smoothie bowl or enjoy them as a dipping sauce with chicken tenderloins.

Does cooking destroy the nutritional value of berries? No. Cooking actually rearranges the shape of the antioxidant molecules so you can absorb more of them. 

Fresh berries are a bit expensive, any tips? Save money by shopping savvy. Look for sales (buy one get one free) and always open the clam-shell box to examine them. If you see juice or mold, skip them and go to the frozen department. Berries stay fresh three to seven days in the refrigerator. To extend their life, spread berries out in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet, freeze until solid and transfer to freezer safe containers. Once frozen, berries and other fruit keep well for 12-18 months.

Frozen berries are as just as nutritious as fresh! Pay less per pound by purchasing frozen berries in bulk and look for frozen wild blueberries, which are higher in antioxidants than their cultivated cousins.

Another way to save is to pick your own. In Connecticut, strawberries are available in June, blueberries from mid July through August, and raspberries from July to the end of summer. Click here to learn where you can pick your own produce in Connecticut.


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