Summer without berries would be like Christmas without cookies. These colorful nuggets are loaded with nutrients, full of flavor and easy to incorporate into any meal.
While each type of berry has its own nutritional makeup, all berries are rich in anthocyanin, a powerful flavonoid associated with reducing cardiovascular disease risk, cognitive decline and cancer. In fact, berries have a higher flavonoid content than most other fruits, making these little summer treats a potent source of antioxidants.
Berries are also quite delicate. Even with proper care and handling, they will keep for only a few days after purchase. Kim Allen, senior marketing manager at Driscoll’s, recommends keeping them dry and refrigerated until you’re ready to eat them, and only then rinsing them gently in cold water. Keep them in the original container, too, as it provides protection and airflow.
“The clamshell casing is very intentional,” says Allen. “It is designed a special way for ventilation.”
With the longest growing season of all berries, strawberries are the most readily available year-round. A great source of folate, strawberries are known to boost cardiovascular health and provide a full day’s worth of vitamin C—more than in a medium-size orange—in just one serving (about eight berries).
> HEALTH BOOSTS: Heart health; vitamin C
The Mighty Mouse of superfoods, these tiny berries pack a punch. Blueberries’ plentiful antioxidants promote better vision and may even help reverse short-term, age-related memory loss. To ensure year-round availability, they are grown in different regions throughout the Americas. Stock up and freeze blueberries in July, when large containers adorn grocery shelves.
> HEALTH BOOSTS: Antioxidants; memory support
These delicate little beauties come in a variety of colors and are a good source of the heart-healthy flavonoids quercetin and gallic acid. Raspberries are highly perishable, so look for plump, brightly colored fruits when shopping and buy only what you plan to eat. When properly cared for, raspberries will keep for two days in your refrigerator.
>HEALTH BOOSTS: Heart health; cancer-fighting properties
A single blackberry is in fact a small cluster of fruits—similar to a bunch of grapes—with a nutrient-rich seed hiding inside. These miniature clusters boast one of the highest antioxidant counts per serving of any food available, making blackberries a powerful little prevention pill. With a distinct earthy flavor, blackberries are a great snack or a tasty addition to meals or drinks.
> HEALTH BOOSTS: Antioxidants