The Health Benefits of Michigan Summer Berries
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m not talking about the holidays. I am talking about Michigan’s summer berry season. The trees are in full bloom, the weather is warm and the berries are ready for picking!
These sweet treats are not only tasty but they are healthy as well. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Wellness Coordinator Michelle Miller says the key is in the phytonutrients.
“Berries help boost the immune system while protecting the body against inflammation, heart disease and cancer because of their high levels of phytonutrients,” said Miller. “Berries are also a low-calorie food packed with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and folate.”
Specifically, blueberries are considered a super food because they rank at the top of the list of fruits and vegetables containing the highest levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants help the cells in the body combat toxins, which can lead to diseases, contribute to aging, and negatively impact brain function. Antioxidants found in berries may also improve cognitive skills such as memory function.
The summer season in Michigan is prime time for farmers markets. Along with many other fruits and vegetables, berries are a farmer’s market staple. Not only are the berries home grown, you might be able to cash in on savings by shopping local.
You can also buy in bulk and freeze packages of Michigan berries to enjoy all year long. The nutritional value of fresh and frozen berries is very similar if frozen within a few days of purchase or picking. Miller recommends keeping berries whole (do not cut them) if you decide to store them in the freezer.
Keep in mind it may be possible to have too much of a good thing, especially for people with diabetes. Since fruit can be high in natural sugars, it is important to be aware of this when choosing which fruits to eat. Click here to view the USDA guidelines on daily fruit consumption. In general, a good rule of thumb is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
Berries can be deliciously prepared in many ways. They can be eaten raw, cooked in jam or even used as a salad topper. Not only are these brain foods great tasting but they are extremely beneficial for your health. Next time you take a stroll to the market or grocery store, remember to pick up some fresh Michigan berries!
Do you know where to get the best berries in town? Share your suggestions by leaving us a comment.
Photo Credit: Liz West
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