Mar 272012

nutrition berriesThough small in size, berries have BIG health and nutrition benefits. Besides bursting with flavor, the nutrition in these delectable treats comes from phytonutrients – naturally occurring compounds found in plants. These nutrients are most concentrated in the peel or skin of fruits and vegetables, so berries, with their edible skin, are a particularly good source of phytonutrients.

I’m starting to see the first signs of strawberries on supermarket shelves–a sure sign that Spring is just around the corner.

Read more to find out how to get the optimal health benefits of berries in your daily diet, and easy ways to incorporate nutritious berries as a snack, a part of a meal, or a simple dessert:

  • Strawberries contain more Vitamin C in a one-cup serving than one orange, and are particularly high in folic acid. For a special treat, dip in dark chocolate or melted brie cheese.
  • Blueberries contain more disease fighting antioxidants than red wine or green tea One half cup of blueberries a day may help improve brain function. Toss a handful on cereal or yogurt, or blend into a smoothie. Some scientific evidence suggests that blueberries may be beneficial for the skin. New skin care treatments include blueberry extracts to help revitalize the skin and hasten healing.
  • Blackberries, Raspberries, Boysenberries each contains 8 g of fiber in one cup, one-third the daily recommended amount (25 g). Blend them with 100% fruit juice and heat to make a sauce for lean meats like fish and chicken; enjoy with ice cream, or in pies.
  • Cranberries not only combat urinary tract infections by preventing Escherichia coli bacteria from sticking to cells in the urinary tract, but they also are a natural probiotic, supporting healthy bacteria that grow in the gastrointestinal tract and aid in digestion. Add a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries to bread recipes. Toss dried cranberries in salads or trail mixes.
  • All berries are loaded with fiber, which helps you feel full (and eat less). Most berries are naturally sweet so you don’t need to add sugar or toppings.

blueberry saladIf you’re not able to find fresh berries, look for frozen (without added sugar or syrup), or for dried berries. Dried berries can be used as a substitute for raisins as a nutritious snack.

Berries also make a great addition to salads, so check out this week’s recipe for a delicious and nutritious Fresh Blueberry Chicken Salad.

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