Versatile, tasty, and a cinch to prepare, berries are also a powerful source of vitamins and fiber. The rich phytonutrient content found in berries helps to support a healthy and robust immune system, and the antioxidants found in all berries bind to free radicals, which in turn neutralizes them, helping to protect our cells and repair damaged DNA.
Here are some of the more common berries you’ll find in stores:
- Blueberries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and manganese, and have high levels of antioxidants.
- Strawberries are a good source of folate, potassium, fiber, and manganese, and have even more vitamin C than oranges.
- Blackberries contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
- Raspberries contain vitamin C, magnesium and manganese, and are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber helps support a healthy immune system and normal bowel movements, in addition to bulking up in your small intestine which helps increase the feeling of fullness.
Choose fresh, plump berries, keeping an eye out for the powdery “bloom” (a delicate white coating) on blueberries and bright color that signifies freshness.
You can freeze fresh berries by spreading them onto a baking tray in a single layer and putting them into the freezer which will prevent them from freezing into clumps. When they are fully frozen, tip them into plastic bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Berries will stay edible in the freezer indefinitely—just take out a handful when you are ready to eat them — so you can enjoy their health benefits throughout the winter. They can also be dried using a food dehydrator.
Berries are adaptable and can be eaten fresh, frozen, or dried. They’re a perfect snack eaten alone; sprinkled on cereals and salads for a burst of flavor and color; and as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal, or cottage cheese. They are also a great addition to smoothies and the source of delicious jams. Try our very simple and delicious Strawberry Compote.
Don’t ignore the frozen foods aisle when craving berries – they are just as rich in nutrients as fresh berries, since they are frozen at peak freshness. Don’t miss our article on thawing frozen fruits and vegetables and nutrient retention.