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Nutrition Articles  ›  Meals and Food

The Benefits of Berries

Red, Black & Blue are Berry Good for You!

-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer
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Blueberries are small and mighty, known for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They also contain anthocyanin, the antioxidant that gives the berry its deep color and may also help improve learning and memory (according to studies on mice). Like most berries, blueberries are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, as well as B vitamins, fiber and vitamins C, E and K.

North America is the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for almost 90% of the world’s production. Harvest time in North America begins mid-April in Florida, peaks in July, and runs through early October in British Columbia.

Look for fresh blueberries that are firm, dry plump and smooth. They should be deep purple-blue or blue-black in color (reddish-colored berries aren’t ripe but may be used for cooking). Stay away from containers that are stained with juice, as this may be a sign that the berries are overripe, crushed or moldy. Fresh blueberries can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days and washed just before using.

While blueberries can be eaten raw, they are often cooked in pies, pancakes and muffins. Add a few fresh blueberries to yogurt or cereal, cook them into a sweet syrup for topping ice cream, waffles or pancakes, or try a new blueberry recipe.

Scientific research continues to prove the health benefits of the tart and tangy cranberry. Cranberries are sources of polyphenols, antioxidants that may benefit the cardiovascular system, immune system and act as anti-cancer agents. They also contain tannins, which have anti-clotting properties. Besides being a rich in antioxidants, cranberries also boast fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and more.

Cranberry juices and sauces are available in the grocery store year-round, while fresh cranberries are in-season from September to December—just in time for festive holiday dishes. When purchasing them fresh, go for plump, firm (an indicator of quality) cranberries that are deep red in color. Before storing in the refrigerator, discard soft, discolored or shriveled berries. Frozen cranberries will keep for years, but used immediately once thawed.

Cranberries make a healthy addition to your diet, no matter how you enjoy them—as juice, sauce, fresh or dried. For the most nutrients and antioxidants, choose fresh or dried cranberries. Cranberry juice is very popular but look out for added sugars—buy 100% pure juice. Cranberry "drinks" or "cocktails" that contain added water, sugar and sweeteners contain the fewest antioxidants. Dried cranberries are a flavorful addition to salads and can be added to stuffing or baked into muffins. Fresh cranberries can be boiled into a tangy sauce or chutney and make a great addition to roasted pork or fowl. Discover a new way to prepare cranberries by using one of our cranberry recipe ideas.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

    I stock up on blueberries and strawberries when they're in season and on sale. I wash & slice the strawberries, then put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet that I've lined with parchment paper. I freeze them overnight, then break them apart & put them in freezer bags. For blueberries, I wash them & put them on the cookie sheet, freeze overnight & put them in a freezer bag. This way, I don't have to remember whether or not I washed them. I often put some frozen blueberries in a container of low-fat cottage cheese & pack it for lunch. By the time I'm ready to eat, the berries have thawed.

    I use the frozen strawberries in smoothies, or thaw them in the fridge with a little agave nectar to use in desserts. - 8/7/2011 10:41:51 PM
  • Tonight I made my favorite salad to take with dinner to a friend's house. A platter of cut romaine, red onion rings, sliced strawberries, fresh red raspberries, blueberries, Feta cheese, chopped pecans and raspberry vinaigrette over it. Everyone loved it!!! - 8/6/2011 10:33:58 PM
    A tip about freezing berries - small berries like raspberries freeze best if you spread them out in a single layer and freeze them on a plate or a tray. You can bag them once they're frozen. - 8/6/2011 1:07:29 PM
    Most of these berries are incredibly easy to grow, and taste best - and have the greatest health benefits - when absolutely fresh and in season, which is easiest to achieve when you're producing them yourself. It's also a much, much cheaper way to get fresh produce into your diet. I wish SP would encourage people to grow more of their vegetables and fruits. There are also lots of other berries which are not available commercially but which are just as healthy and taste great - and easy to grow (black currants, red currants, huckleberries....
    ). - 8/6/2011 1:05:06 PM
  • I love berries of all kinds, especially blackberries. There are some wild raspberry bushes down the street, and just yesterday I went and picked a whole container. They're smaller, firmer, brighter, and tastier than store-bought berries. And they were free! Score! - 8/6/2011 8:56:11 AM
    I tell all my friends and family who perhaps only have a small patio or a ledge, you can get a small berry plant and have fresh berries now and then. You can't beat the benefits and taste of fresh berries just picked. - 5/15/2011 6:11:04 PM
  • I had no idea that berries were an anti-inflamatory food! - 2/23/2011 10:36:22 AM
  • I bought some blueberries this weekend. The price was a little high, but I wanted a break from oranges, bananas and apples. The berries are rather sweet. I'm happy with my decision. JEC - 1/30/2011 11:48:27 PM
  • Sadly I can't eat berries because of allergies though I love the smell of strawberries - 11/18/2010 12:04:20 PM
    Berries are quite expensive, like many people have said, but have you all tried the "pick and pay" places? There are a couple of small farms around where I live and you can pick your own berries (mainly black berries and strawberries, some raspberries) and the prices are substantially lower than supermarkets. And you know you get the freshest available! - 8/9/2010 5:22:58 PM
  • I agree, berries are crazy expensive. However, as I am lucky enough to be near a farmer's market, I stock up and freeze berries when they are in season. Blueberries have worked out the best for me (freeze in an airtight baggie, do not wash ahead of time. Take out what you need, rinse with warm water in a colander, dump into pancake or other batter. It does not need defrosting). Strawberries only seem to work in things like homemade ice cream or smoothies. I haven't tried freezing raspberries yet, as they get consumed too quickly to put any in the freezer! - 8/6/2010 12:22:54 PM
    I have a raspberry patch most people would kill for, I like to pick a cup fresh each morning for my yogurt. Sweet and tart are excellent, and vanilla yogurt makes me feel I am eating raspberries and cream enjoy! - 8/6/2010 9:56:48 AM
    An easy way to add berries to your diet. Walmart sells frozen berries(cost effective) that I add to light yogurt with a sprinkle of high protein, high fiber cereal. It's breakfast everyday, easy & full of nutrients to start the day! - 8/6/2010 9:36:57 AM
  • Isn't it a pity they all cost so much! I love berries, but the price makes them a treat rather than a staple. - 8/6/2010 2:43:28 AM
  • I believe in the Berries.. My husband got sick about 6 mo. ago.So we decided to eat all natural . One of the things we did was first thing in the morning made a fresh blueberry,strawbe
    rry,rasberry smoothy(I think its a smoothy,but no added suar or anything else). Just added them into the blener with little to no water and drank it. Well needless to say my husband is doing fine and I lost 20 pounds.I Started my mom that has diabetes and she notice that here insulin shot was affecting her. When she monitered her blood sugar levels , she saw they were going down naturally and needed less insulin. She checked with the doc, and they lowered her insulin meds... So I truley believe in the Berries!..Especia
    lly blueberries.
    P.s. After a few days we will mix up the are some combos
    _blueberry, pear,rasberry

    So many to choose from , just try it for yourself...Thanks for reading.. :) - 4/16/2010 12:52:03 PM