Several times a year, I stock up on my favorite berries.
I eat berries year-round in yogurt, oatmeal, and by themselves. Not only are they tasty, they have significant health benefits...
And this time of year, I love to buy cranberries...
The berries are usually marked down 50% right after Thanksgiving and Christmas. I buy at least a dozen packages and freeze all but two.
They're great for making teas and juice.
For example, I fill a pot with three or four quarts of water per two bags of berries. I boil the berries until they pop. I then turn the heat off and cover the berries overnight. In the morning, I just press and strain through a cloth, and, voila, homemade cranberry juice with no sugar added!
Amazingly, it's not too tart and very refreshing.
Cranberries contain compounds that help prevent bacteria like food-borne pathogens E. coli and staphylococcus from sticking to cells. They can also keep plaque from sticking to the surface of your teeth. And they can protect against cancer, particularly breast cancer, due in part to potent polyphenol antioxidants.
And if you don't like cranberries, try adding some other berries to your diet...
For example, in the summer, I stock up on wild blueberries... I call blueberries the "perfect blue food." They're packed with antioxidants (like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, fiber, and manganese), flavonoids, anthocyanins (this gives them the blue color), and other nutrients. They lower cholesterol, improve eyesight, and reduce inflammation.
Blackberries also help lower cholesterol and fight cancer. And they improve your immune system because they're packed with vitamin C. Their high amounts of potassium and salicylate (an ingredient in aspirin) may help protect you from high blood pressure.
Studies of the now-popular açai berry show it to be only moderate in its antioxidant properties. However, açai does have mild effects on the inflammation pathways similar to aspirin in its mechanism of action. I like to try different fruits, and I certainly won't turn down açai drinks. But I'd rather have blueberries.
Raspberries (probably my second-favorite after blues) are packed with flavonoids like ellagic acid. Research shows ellagic acid inhibits tumor growth in certain cancers. And according to the American Cancer Society, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Strawberries are also full of ellagic acid. Like all berries, they have lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. They relieve many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – especially pain.
One important note: Store-bought strawberries and raspberries tend to be highly contaminated with pesticides. Do what I do... Mix a little white vinegar with water and soak your produce before eating. Then, rinse the stuff off with water.
On top of their health benefits, the next best thing about berries is that they freeze well. So do what I do... Stock up when they're on sale and add them to your freezer.
Tremendous health benefits come from eating berries. And berries also have special benefits for eyes because of unique micronutrients that make them high in antioxidants. So if your vision is getting fuzzier, try eating about a half-cup of berries a day.
What We're Reading...
- Why insurance companies care about the cranberry glut.
- Stunning video about how cranberries are harvested, plus some extreme tricks: cranberry wakeboarding.
- Breeders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an experimental variety of naturally sweet cranberry.