Benefits of Berries

09. August 2011

“Life is like a bowl of cherries!” Did you know that familiar quote dates back all the way to the 1930’s? It’s one line from the lyrics to a delightful song about not taking life too seriously.  

Good advice. But while I can be less-than-serious about life, I take cherries VERY seriously … along with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, not to mention acai and bilberries! When it comes to foods that pack a nutritional punch, berries are some of the healthiest foods on the planet.

It’s summer and now’s the time to get in on the berry bonanza! Your grocery store’s produce section is overflowing with bins of berries ready to enjoy!  Extremely high in antioxidants, berries rank among my favorite foods. Most berries are naturally sweet and simple to prepare. Just rinse them under water and you’ve got a deliciously juicy and nutritious snack or dessert.

One cup of strawberries contains over 100 mg of vitamin C, almost as much as a cup of orange juice. Vitamin C is critical for immune system function and strong connective tissue. Strawberries also add a bit of calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium … and only 53 calories!

One cup of blueberries offers a slightly smaller amount of vitamin C, minerals and phytochemicals for only 83 calories. The same amount of blackberries is similar, but with only 44 calories. One cup of raspberries offers vitamin C and potassium for 64 calories.  

But don’t stop there. You’ll get more of the same nutrition from cranberries, loganberries, gooseberries and the popular acai berries.

Ideas for Serving Berries

Most berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sweet enough to eat just as they are but here are some of my favorite berry combos:

*Top a bowl of berries with a dollop of light-whipped topping and a sprinkling of chopped pecans or walnuts.

*Add strawberry slices to a bowl of whole grain cereal.

*Sprinkle blueberries on a salad (my husband’s favorite!)

*Stir fresh raspberries into vanilla yogurt (MY favorite!)

*Combine frozen berries with bananas and low-fat milk to make a smoothie.

So get ‘em while they’re hot … er fresh! Make your summer “like a bowl of cherries” every day!

Blueberry Couscous Salad with Mango, Onion and Lemon Dressing

When it comes to berries, don’t be afraid to think outside the bowl! Here’s a recipe that combines two nutritional powerhouses, berries and whole grains, to make a super-cool salad – on the side or as a main dish. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

½ cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
½ tsp. salt, divided
¾ cop whole wheat couscous
1 cup blueberries
1 cup fresh mango cubes
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine orange juice, water and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in couscous; cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer couscous to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Cool 10 minutes.  Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, blueberries, mango, onion, mint, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper – mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.