A Berry Good Season

Ellen Haas Health Guide

    It is time to get ready for a favorite food season of mine - the berry season. It is already happening at the market and the bright, vibrant colors and healthy, good tastes of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are popping up all over. If you look around they are so colorful and ripe and ready to enjoy.


    Though berries are available in today's grocery store all year round, the really best-tasting ones are the local berries that can be found from May to August. Around here, in the Mid-Atlantic states, early in June is the peak time for strawberries and then shortly after the blueberries, blackberries and raspberries peak. On weekends there are trucks parked on the side of the road selling fresh, local strawberries and the farmers market is filled with then. I can never resist bringing a quart or two home to enjoy in many different ways.

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    It is not surprising that these berries are so popular. They are double winners: in taste and health. As an example, strawberries have a terrific nutrition profile and they are an excellent source of vitamin C and flavonoids. If you are watching your weight, they are so low calorie and contain less sugar that a lot of other fruits. In fact, a cup of strawberries is only 45 calories.


    The rainbow of colorful berries is a sign that they contain antioxidants and other important nutrients. Antioxidants have been increasingly regarded as health promoting because they have been shown to delay the onset of many age-related diseases such as heart disease and many forms of cancer. They are capable of stabilizing free radicals before they do harm to cells.


    The bright deep red color of strawberries is from health promoting antioxidants, such as anthocyanins. And blueberries are a healthy powerhouse because they are one of the richest sources of antioxidants of all fresh fruit and vegetables.


    Strawberries and other berries are a treat from morning till night. They are an essential addition to my morning cereal or oatmeal and they make wonderful breakfast (or lunch). Smoothies and salads are enhanced when you add sliced strawberries to greens like arugula and the dessert options for evening meals are endless.


    All in all they are so berry good in every way.


    Hope you discover the sweet, smart tastes of berries this season and try the recipes that are the stars of Ellen's Healthy Table this week. What are your favorite berry recipes?

Published On: May 19, 2008