July is recognized as National Berries Month. It is a great time to recognize berries for their good health and taste. During this month make a point to add more berries to your diet and increase your awareness of all the different ways berries can be used in food preparation.
Naturally sweet, delicious and healthy, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries and blackberries are great examples of what the summer season has to offer. Berries are high in vitamin A and C, as well as fiber. Berries have phytochemicals and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may help to prevent some types of cancer. The USDA’s MyPlate reminds us to make half our plate fruits and vegetables. Berries offer the deep reds, blues, and purples as part of the “plateful of color” that we’re encouraged to eat every day to stay healthy.
Don’t judge berries by their size. Though small, they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Here’s how some of your favorite berries compare:
1 cup each
When selecting berries, avoid soft ones or those with a dull appearance; these are indicators that the berries are old. Stains on containers are a sign that the fruit may be crushed or bruised. Look for firm, plump, full-colored berries.
When eaten raw, berries are low in calories. A serving size of fresh berries is one cup. Choose serving methods that will provide the most nutrients and the least sugar and fat.
Berries will keep longer if you wait to wash them until just before eating. To store at home, cover and refrigerate until ready to consume. While rinsing under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands, and then dry before using.
There are so many ways berries can be eaten; as a quick snack, include them in salads, add them to hot or cold cereal, bake them in pancakes, or blend them into a smoothie with low-fat milk. You can also consider adding frozen berries to iced tea or using as garnishes.