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Berries & Cherries

As spring slips into summer, savour the sweetest, healthiest harvest

By Robert Beauchamps

As soon as the snow melts, keep your eyes on the trees. When green buds burst so does the berry bonanza coming to a market near you: red raspberries, burgundy cherries, purplish blueberries, and stacks of strawberries wafting that unmistakable scent of sweet summery goodness. Add them to breakfast yogurt, evening dessert or pop them by the bunch like bonbons, guilt-free!

Cherry, Ma Chérie
Cherries aren’t berries, you say? No matter. What the cherry is is an antioxidant-rich fruit packed with a special kind of juice that can help reduce muscle soreness, the chance of sleeplessness due to melatonin content, and our risk of stroke. Not bad for something similar in size to a Brussels sprout. And like that sprout, the cherry is packed with fibre. Just one cup of cherries contains about 2.5 grams. All of that and they’re high in potassium, too. This will help regulate your heart rate and blood pressure while lowering any risk of hypertension. Now if only life was a bowl of cherries without the pits.

Raspberry Rapture
All berries are high in antioxidants, but raspberries beat out all others by making the top 15 of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s best antioxidant sources. They also top the list of fibre providers with about 8 grams of fibre per cup. Raspberries also provide ellagic acid, an important antioxidant that helps protect the skin from sun damage and hinders the formation of an enzyme that breaks down elastin and collagen in the skin.

Summer’s Success Story
Arguably the most popular berry, the strawberry comes by its popularity honestly. For one, it’s an excellent source of vitamin C (one cup contains 160 percent of our daily needs). According to the Harvard School of Public Health, strawberries can lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a signal of inflammation in the body. In one study, women who ate 16 or more strawberries per week were 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of CRP. Strawberries are also good to use on your skin as a natural beauty treatment.

Battling Blues with Blues
While the strawberries work their magic on your face, why not chow down on some blueberries? This humble button of a berry helps keep the brain happy. Scientific American reports that eating a diet high in these flavonoid-rich berries can help slow the decline in mental function often seen with aging and can even help protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recent research shows that blueberries have an effect on brain chemistry, modulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain and helping with treatment. On top of that, blueberries help reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, thus making them a great choice for heart health improvement.

 

Spring 2016, Vol 8 N°2

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