Berry Beneficical

By Greg Seiter

Versatile fruit benefits your health in a delicious way

Spring marks the arrival of berry season throughout much of the United States. Berry season is a time when numerous types of this brightly colored, juicy fruit are once again harvested for incorporation into both food and drinks.
Some variations of berries are sweet, while others are somewhat sour or even tart. Many berries are utilized in baked goods and deserts, while others help compose smoothies and even alcoholic beverages. Of course, many berry advocates prefer to simply enjoy them raw.

How many types of berries are there?
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are the most common berries we find at grocery stores. But berries are grown all over the globe, and there are more than 400 variations of them.

What are the health benefits associated with eating berries?
The short answer is most berries are loaded with antioxidants. However, the majority of berries are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Are some berries healthier than others?
Berry variations are so numerous that it’s difficult to rank them in order of the most to the least beneficial.
Strawberries, for example, provide anti-inflammatory perks. However, an interesting side note is that strawberry tops (the leaves) are proven to aid gastrointestinal discomfort and joint pain.
Blueberries are loaded with heart-healthy potassium, folate, fiber and vitamin C. Like strawberries, blueberries boast plenty of memory-boosting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Raspberries are packed with eight grams of fiber per serving. In addition, research shows they can help with the management of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
One cup of blackberries contains about two grams of protein and eight grams of fiber. Each serving also boasts half the daily recommended amount of vitamin C.
Regular consumption of raw cranberries is reported to boost the health of the urinary tract, digestive system and immune system. It is also believed that cranberries have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, ulcers and degenerative diseases rooted in cell damage.

How should berries be stored?
Most berries have very tender skins and because of that, their natural sugar content causes them to mold easily. So keeping your berries refrigerated and dry is very important. Experts say berries should always be thoroughly rinsed, but only immediately before consumption in order to extend their refrigerator shelf life. If berries are going to be frozen for later use, prewashing is okay, but they should be thoroughly dried before freezing.