Blueberries have got to be one of my favourite snacks and baking add-ons. Cakes, muffins, pancakes…..yum. Not that I’m eating berries in any of that food at the moment!! But…..I’ve found a BETTER way to eat blueberries and all berries.
Yes, fresh from the bush or carton if I’m forced to buy them. We’ve all heard that berries are super foods, as far as health and wellness is concerned. But they are delicious too!! It does help to know that I’m filling my body with anti-oxidants and cancer fighting properties all while enjoying a snack or with my daily oatmeal for breakfast. Even if fresh berries are not available to you, frozen or dried are still beneficial.
Need more inspiration? Read on……
Blueberries lead the way and have been nicknamed the ‘brain berry’ by Dr James Joseph of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tufts University. These sweet, small, deep blue coloured berries are native to North America but are loved the world over. Not only are they full of concentrated anti-aging antioxidants, blueberries are a great source of fibre, vitamins C and A, manganese and even calcium. Eating fresh or frozen blueberries on a regular basis may improve eyesight, brain function, heart health, assist in fighting against bacterial infections and keep you looking younger. A cup of fresh blueberries contain less than 320kj and a GI level of 53.
Another North American native that possesses high levels of antioxidants is the cranberry. It is not often that you will see this robust, tart, red berry in your supermarket alongside the other fresh berries but cranberry products such as: juice, cocktail, sauce, dried fruit and as an addition to many muesli bars and cereals, they are plentiful in the Australia and New Zealand marketplace. Cranberries have been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years as a food and medicine. Many people today consider it their first line of defence against urinary infections. The natural flavonoid and phytonutrient compounds that are good against urinary infections may also help protect you against gastrointestinal tract disorders, cardiovascular disease, stomach ulcers and certain cancers. Cranberries are high in vitamin C, have less than 190kj per cup of fresh berries or 250ml of cranberry cocktail and have a GI level of 52.
Strawberries are one of the most recognisable and loved berry of all. The strawberry is the star ingredient of jams, jellies, yoghurt and ice creams around the world. A fresh strawberry can brighten up any fruit salad, dessert or cheese platter. These heart-shaped berries have a very high antioxidant content and are an excellent source of vitamin C, fibre, folate and potassium. These properties can reduce the aging process, help lower blood cholesterol, prevent birth defects, promote heart health and regulate blood pressure. A cup provides just 197kj and has a low GI of 40!!
Raspberries, like strawberries are a favourite jam ingredient but they are worth so much more than to be mashed up and drowned in sugar. This gorgeous little bumpy, seedy berry is teeming with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, dietary fibre, vitamins C, A & B2; magnesium, manganese and ellagic acid that may battle against cancer, cardiovascular disease and age related diseases. Researchers at Ohio State University have found that adding raspberries to your daily diet can create positive reduction in colon tumours. Don’t spit out the seeds because their oil is rich in natural SPF, omega 3 and vitamin E. One cup of fresh berries has less than 275kj and rates a GI of less than 40.
The boysenberry is a hybrid of the raspberry and loganberry that was created by American horticulturist, Rudolph Boysen in the 1920’s. Boysenberries are large, dark purple and red coloured tart clusters of seeds surrounded by juicy flesh. When you buy a box of frozen mixed berries, many of them will be boysenberries. Like others berries that are native to North America, boysenberries are now actively grown in Australia and New Zealand. They possess high levels of antioxidants, dietary fibre, vitamin C and ellagic acid. The ellagic acids in berries make them a potent anticarcinogen, antiviral and antibacterial agent. With less than 210kj per cup and a very low glycemic level a daily intake of boysenberries will make your body happy.
When Dr Oz suggested the acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry as a super, anti-aging food on the Oprah Show, the berry shot into stardom. Some people believe this high energy berry to be the secret to weight loss. It is true that the acai berry is a very powerful antioxidant and full of amino and essential fatty acids that may slow down the aging process, promote cardiovascular health, digestion and bring an overall sense of wellness. The dark purple berries grow naturally in South American rainforests so do not expect them on your supermarket shelves but look for them in juice, cereal bars, as a dehydrated form or powder and supplements. A 100g pack of acai puree yields 314kj and a very low GI reading.
The goji berry, which is also known as the wolfberry, comes from southeast Europe and Asia. Like the acai berry, it has gained popularity in the West as a super healing food. The small, bright red berry has been used in traditional medicine for many centuries to improve or combat: poor vision, blood pressure, cholesterol, vertigo, diabetes, lumbago, impotence, menopause symptoms, asthma, fever, cough, tuberculosis, nosebleeds and skin aliments. In Dr Mindell and Rick Handell’s book: Goji -The Himalayan Health Secret, they say the goji berry is the world’s most powerful anti-aging food. Goji berries are a potent antioxidant and good sources of: vitamins A, C, B1, and B2; beta-carotene, fibre, potassium and iron. A one cup serving has a whopping 1840kj and a very low GI of 29.