Big Surprises Come in Little Berry-Shaped Packages

Big Surprises Come in Little Berry-Shaped Packages

<p>Who doesn’t love berries? Shiny, vibrant colors aside, berries have been a staple of human diets for thousands of years. Not only do they taste good, but they’re packed with nutrients and health benefits, making them a win-win. </p> <p>Let’s unpack everything to do with berries and their rich history, nutritional value, and versatile uses in the kitchen.</p> <h2>The juicy history of berries</h2> <p>Indigenous peoples all over the world have relied on wild berries for sustenance, medicine, and even dyes since time immemorial. Back in the day, we used to consume berries fresh or in a dried form for the winter months. Cultivation of berries is relatively recent in human history, as advances in agriculture allowed for the domestication and selective breeding of particular species.</p> <h2>Small but mighty nutritional powerhouses</h2> <p>Despite being tiny, berries are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The popular varieties we all know and love, i.e., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries, each offer a unique nutritional profile.</p> <h3>Strawberries </h3> <p>Rich in vitamin C, manganese, folate, and antioxidants, strawberries are known for their heart health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also low in calories, with only around 32 calories found in half a cup’s worth.</p> <figure><img src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/PqEbB0U1A2/original.png" alt width="503" height="347" /> <figcaption>Vitamin C in fruit. <em>Source: Eur Food Res Technol/Wikimedia</em></figcaption> </figure> <h3>Blueberries </h3> <p>High in vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which support brain health and protect against oxidative stress.</p> <h3>Raspberries</h3> <p>A great source of fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. Raspberries are known for their chemo-preventive properties (reduces your cancer risk) and make for a great addition to a diet when managing diabetes.</p> <h3>Blackberries </h3> <p>Blackberries contain vitamins C and K, plenty of fiber, and numerous antioxidants. They have been linked to improved brain health and digestion.</p> <h3>Cranberries </h3> <p>Cranberries are high in vitamins C, E, and K, fiber, and antioxidants, and they may help with preventing urinary tract infections.</p> <h2>Take a berry booster for your health</h2> <p>The health benefits of berries are vast and well-documented. Regular consumption can contribute to overall well-being in several ways:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Antioxidant protection.</strong> As you probably noticed above, berries are chock full of antioxidants that help to combat free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Heart health.</strong> The high levels of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants in berries contribute to lowering cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, and improving overall cardiovascular health.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Cognitive function.</strong> Antioxidants, especially in blueberries and blackberries, have been shown in research to improve memory and cognitive function, potentially reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Weight management.</strong> Berries are low in calories but high in fiber, helping to promote satiety (feeling of fullness) and reduce overall caloric intake.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Skin health.</strong> The vitamins and antioxidants in berries help protect the skin from damage, promote collagen production, and enhance overall skin health.</li> </ul> <h2>Versatility in the kitchen</h2> <p>One of the best things about berries is that you can do practically anything with them in the kitchen. Freshly picked berries can be eaten after a wash to remove dirt and other pollutants, or you can add them to all sorts of meals. </p> <p>Berries make for an excellent addition to breakfast oats, adding a conservative level of sweetness and taste while still being good for you. For the occasional baked indulgence, berries can be added for flavor and a healthy element in your muffins, pies, or cakes. </p> <p>Smoothies also do well with berries, turning that blended-up mixture into a refreshing and nutrient-dense drink. You can also make preservatives like jams and jellies to enjoy the flavor of berries year-round. </p> <figure><img src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/VAzaVDuMqO/original.jpg" alt width="500" height="450" /> <figcaption>Jar of raspberry jam and raspberries. <em>Source: congerdesign/Pixabay</em></figcaption> </figure> <h2>National Blueberry Month</h2> <p>It sounds kind of silly, but National Blueberry Month is a fun and potentially transformative movement for your diet and health. Blueberries have been given the spotlight because, out of all berries, they take the biscuit when it comes to health.</p> <p>The combo of being high in antioxidants, full of vitamins and minerals, and low in calories makes them an excellent candidate for your diet. They tackle heart health, brain health, diabetes, and weight management, and to top it all off, they taste amazing. What’s not to love?</p> <p>July is the peak of blueberry harvesting season, so now is the time to celebrate this wonderful little guy. Here’s some recipe ideas you can try out to start incorporating the beloved blueberry into your life.</p> <figure><img src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/OoYD72HMAG/original.jpg" alt width="500" height="333" /> <figcaption>Blueberries. <em>Source: Couleur/Pixabay</em></figcaption> </figure> <h3>Blueberry recipes</h3> <h4><em>Blueberry overnight oats</em></h4> <p>Ingredients:</p> <ul> <li>1/2 cup rolled oats</li> <li>1/2 cup of your preferred milk (almond, dairy, etc.)</li> <li>1/4 cup Greek yogurt</li> <li>1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries</li> <li>1 tablespoon chia seeds</li> <li>For extra flavor, you can consider adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract and/or a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. However, be mindful of the high sugar content.</li> </ul> <h4><em>Blueberry spinach smoothie</em></h4> <p>Ingredients:</p> <ul> <li>1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries</li> <li>1 cup fresh spinach</li> <li>1 banana</li> <li>1 cup of milk</li> <li>1 tablespoon chia seeds</li> <li>1 teaspoon honey (optional)</li> </ul> <h4><em>Blueberry quinoa salad</em></h4> <p>Ingredients:</p> <ul> <li>1 cup cooked quinoa</li> <li>1 cup fresh blueberries</li> <li>1/2 cup chopped cucumber</li> <li>1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese</li> <li>2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint</li> <li>2 tablespoons olive oil</li> <li>1 tablespoon lemon juice</li> <li>Salt and pepper to taste</li> </ul><h2>More on Berries</h2><ul><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/jbledqd02w-blueberries" target="_blank">Blueberries</a></li><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/zjb773502m-vitamins" target="_blank">The ABC of Vitamins</a></li><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/6we7zpkh5j-antioxidants" target="_blank">Antioxidants (Free Radical Scavengers)</a></li></ul>
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