Summertime Berries for Heart Health
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN | July 19, 2017
Phytochemicals to protect against heart disease
Berries are a rich source of phytochemicals, including anthocyanins, polyphenols, and ellagic acid.
These phytochemicals protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, reducing risk of heart disease and cancer.
Which berries are in season?
Summer is the optimal season for berries. Berries in season during the summer include:
Cranberry season is in the fall.
Fresh blueberries contain:
- Vitamin C
- Alpha-tocopherol (a form of Vitamin E)
Delicious fresh and cooked into a compote or dessert.
Available in red, gold, and black varieties, raspberries are high in vitamin C and provide 8 grams of fiber per cup.
Raspberries can be refrigerated for up to two to three days.
Best eaten fresh or in preserves.
Another excellent source of vitamin C, ellagic acid, and anthocyanin. Blackberries provide both soluble and insoluble fiber which play a role in healthy cholesterol levels.
Only 62 calories per cup of fresh blackberries.
Blackberries can be enjoyed fresh as a snack or added to salads, desserts, and sauces.
Not only are strawberries high in vitamin C, they also contain folate and potassium.
Only 49 calories per cup of fresh strawberries.
Frozen strawberries are readily available outside the growing season.
Boysenberries are believed to be a hybrid of raspberries, blackberries, and loganberries.
Boysenberries are rich in vitamin K, fiber, and folate.
A little sweeter than raspberries, they are delicious both fresh and in desserts.
Currants can be found in black, red, and white varieties.
Currants provide vitamin C and fiber.
With a tart flavor, currants are best cooked or in jams and jellies.
Goji berries are native to China and usually available in the U.S. dried.
A good source of vitamins A and C, goji berries are traditionally boiled as tea.
Select firm, plumb berries that do not have bruising.
Choose dry berries that are not leaking juice.
Moisture increases mold risk.
You may freeze fresh berries immediately after purchase or store in the refrigerator for three to six days (unwashed).
Wash berries just before eating them.
Fresh, frozen, vs. dried
Nutrient profiles remain similar between fresh, frozen, and dried berries.
Some vitamin C may be lost during processing.
Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugars. Dried fruit is calorie-dense.
For example, ¼ cup of raisins contains 108 calories while one cup of fresh grapes contains 62 calories.
A great addition to a heart healthy diet
Berries are typically low in carbs and calories, while being high in water.
Berries make the perfect snack or addition to cereal, salads, smoothies, and yogurt.