June 6, 2019
Berries – Tasty, Healthy and Versatile
By: Sheetal Parikh MS, RDN, LDN, Morrison Healthcare Clinical Dietitian
Summer is the best time for berries of any kind. And they have an advantage over lots of other fruits and vegetables: many farms are open to the public, giving everyone the chance to pick their own and take them home. It’s a tradition in my family every summer to go to a berry farm and do just that. It’s also an opportunity for my son to learn and understand the importance of farming and sustainability. It’s a fun family outing that also helps us connect with Mother Earth.
What are the health benefits of berries?
Berries are one of the most versatile fruits because they can be consumed raw or cooked or dried. And because they are tasty and healthy, berries can be a part of almost any meal or snack. They can be enjoyed for breakfast on French toast, pancakes or waffles, in a yogurt parfait, as a fruit cup or as a dessert. They can also be used in baked goods, as fruit preserves, or dried.
As we know, a berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible. The most common type of berries consumed in the U.S. are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries. Once they are ripe, berries are bright in color due to their natural plant pigments. These pigments include anthocyanins, flavonoids and resveratrol, which are antioxidants and may help protect us against cancer, as well as skin wrinkles.
Other benefits of berries include:
- High in fiber and low in calories, which may help us manage our weight. One cup of common berries is between 40 and 120 calories. At the same time, berries provide several nutrients including vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, copper and folate.
- Anti-inflammatory properties may help against infection and injury.
- A heart-healthy food that may lower cholesterol while improving the function of our arteries.
- May reduce high blood sugar levels and benefit insulin sensitivity in our bodies.
Once you buy or pick berries, here are some tips to keep them fresh:
- Wash them just before eating. Berries can’t be washed and stored since mold will grow.
- Wash any berry with one part vinegar to four parts water; rinse with water to kill the spores of the mold and eat immediately.
One of my favorite recipes from our Teaching Kitchen is Mixed Berry Overnight Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait. The oatmeal is a great source of fiber and blueberries provide the antioxidants. Chia seeds are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids while pecans are a healthy source of fat. Get out this summer, pick your berries and enjoy!
Mixed Berry Overnight Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait
For the Base:
1/4 cup of old fashioned oats
1/4 cup low fat or skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
A dash of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chia seeds
For the Mixed Berry Oatmeal parfait:
1/2 cup of vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of diced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon chopped pecans, garnish
- For the base: The night before you want to make your oatmeal, add these ingredients to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- For the parfait: In the morning, in tall glass or cup, layer the ingredients starting with 1/4 cup of each yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, oatmeal. Repeat again ending with oatmeal and sprinkle with pecans.
Save it for later! Download the Mixed Berry Overnight Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait Recipe.
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