Nothing beats fresh-picked fruit and in Oregon, a ripe berry is pretty much tops. This time of year, when fresh berries are readily available, don’t be shy about adding them to your meals.
According to Cheryl Teschner, a dietitian at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, people should try to get most of their nutrients from food, and berries are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, a potent age-fighting nutrient.
“Berries are a nutrient-dense food, which means they contain many essential nutrients while being relatively low in calories and fat,” said Teschner. “Fiber is very important and berries are an excellent source. Fiber can help maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract, help prevent certain cancers, reduce cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease.”
Among the nutritional standouts in the berry family:
- Strawberries contain high levels of vitamin C which helps with iron absorption, a healthy immune system, and to make collagen, an essential component for wound healing. One cup of strawberries contains all of your vitamin C needs for the day.
- Raspberries are an exceptional source of fiber. One cup contains 8 grams of fiber or about a third of your daily needs.
- Blackberries and blueberries contain vitamin K, which is an important nutrient for bone health and helps blood clot. Both types of berries contain 28 mcg of vitamin K in one cup, or about a quarter of your daily needs.
- All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, but cranberries are especially loaded with them. One more well-known antioxidant is anthocyanin, which gives berries their deep rich colors in shades of red, blue and purple. Eating foods with anthocyanins has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, improved urinary tract health and memory function.
To prepare berries for eating, simply rinse with fresh water. They’re a good addition to yogurt, granola, cereal, smoothies and even as a topping to a fresh green salad. In off-season months, frozen berries are good to eat as they provide nearly all the same benefits as fresh berries.
Try this fruit shake and get a head start on enjoying the season of berries! Need ideas of places to get fresh local berries? Check out these helpful online sites for u-pick and farmer’s markets near you: