Fresh berries offer some of the best nutrition money can buy. High in antioxidants, blueberries have a total antioxidant capacity of 13,427 and 9,019 per cup of wild and cultivated berries, respectively. These berries help protect the brain, improve vision, and even promote urinary tract health. A good source of vitamins C and E, riboflavin, manganese, and fiber, blueberries have only 57 calories in a two-thirds cup serving.
Strawberries and raspberries are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese, and flavonoids. They also offer folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. A cup of raspberries provides intense flavor, with just 64 calories and no fat or cholesterol.
The anthocyanin pigments in berries may be what help the body block, detoxify, and eliminate carcinogens as well as repair damaged DNA. Besides anthocyanins, raspberries contain the flavonoids catechin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These substances help inhibit LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol oxidation, promote plaque stability, improve vascular endothelial function, and decrease risk of thrombosis for a healthier cardiovascular profile. Raspberries may also offer more ellagic acid, absorbed efficiently by the body, than any other fruit. Much of this nutrient is found in the seeds. Research suggests that ellagic acid has anticarcinogenic properties and may also benefit connective tissue. In addition, these berries may lower risk of stroke and heart attack because they contain salicylic acid, a natural form of aspirin. Traditionally, they were used in the treatment of fever and sore throat, and for diarrhea in children.
Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries rank high on one scale that’s not so laudable. These delicate fruits, so vulnerable to spoilage and fungi, are heavily treated with toxic and persistent pesticides. Choose organic berries for all the taste and health benefits these fruits offer.
When buying boxed berries, shake them slightly. If they don’t move freely, they may have mold. Choose firm berries that look dry, and before you refrigerate them, remove any mashed or spoiled fruit. Eat highly perishable raspberries within a day or two. Store unwashed, untrimmed berries in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Rinse briefly in cold water just before serving.