Most berries are naturally sweet and require little effort to prepare. Just rinse them under water and serve for a nutritious snack or dessert.
One cup of strawberries contains over 100 mg of vitamin C, almost as much as a cup of orange juice. We need vitamin C for immune system function and for strong connective tissue.Strawberries also add a bit of calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium and only 53 calories.
One cup of blueberries offers a smaller amount of vitamin C, minerals and phytochemicals for only 83 calories. The same amount of cranberries is similar, but with only 44 calories, 1 cup of raspberries offers vitamin C and potassium for 64 calories.
You can choose other berries with similar nutrition, such as loganberries, currants, gooseberries, lingonberries and bilberries.
More Than Pretty Colors
The pigments that give berries their beautiful blue and red hues are also good for your health. Berries contain phytochemicals and flavonoids that may help to prevent some forms of cancer. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that may prevent bladder infections. Eating a diet rich in blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries may help to reduce your risk of several types of cancers. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision.
Every grocery store carries a wide variety of fresh, canned and frozen berries. Look for ripe, colorful and firm berries with no sign of mold or mushy spots. Berries can also be found in the frozen section of the grocery store. Once they thaw, they will not be as firm as freshly picked berries, but they are still delicious and good for you.For the freshest berries, try farmers’ markets that offer berries harvested that same day. Some berry farms allow you to pick your own berries.
Ideas for Serving Berries
Most berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sweet enough to be served just as they are; however, here are some more ideas:
- 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
- Stir fresh raspberries into vanilla yogurt
- Combine frozen berries with bananas and low-fat milk to make a smoothie