Residents of Michiana are finding that berries of all kinds make a perfect summer snack—they are in season, keep well for outings, can be eaten frozen, fresh, or baked, and are loaded with beneficial nutrients. Check out the local farmer’s markets in the Michiana communities to get fresh berries from Indiana growers. We asked Marcy Kirshenbaum, MS, CCN, CNS, LDN, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, to break down which berries are the most nutritious.
HISC: Why are berries so good for us?
MK: Berries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants which support our immune system, brain functions, heart health, and much more. It’s believed that berries improve functional mobility by reducing oxidative stress (think about the browning of an apple slice). The antioxidants in the berries help lower the oxidative stress. Of course, berries alone can’t stop functional decline; berries are just a small piece of a lifestyle that supports wellness.
Besides antioxidants, berries are also a great source of fiber, much which comes from the many tiny seeds we’re eating.
HISC: Is there a best berry?
MK: No one berry is “best.” Each berry provides a unique nutrient mix.
When choosing fruits and vegetables in general, include a rainbow of colors.
In terms of berries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries have some of the highest antioxidants. As good as cranberries may be, they are inherently very sour so sugar is typically added which counteracts some of the health benefits such as immune system support. Strawberries, raspberries, acai, and so on can also be thrown into the mix because they also provide a high level of antioxidants.
HISC: Is there a right amount of berries in the daily diet?
MK: Mixing up the types of whole foods we eat is important, including fruits to obtain a balance of nutrients. In general, I suggest one to two servings of fruit daily, which is equivalent to one to two cups. Too much fruit can contribute to insulin spikes, bloating and gas. Be aware that the benefits of whole fruit cannot be translated to one cup of 100% fruit juice because you lose the benefits of the skin and fiber while greatly increasing the sugar content, not to mention that some nutrients are lost in the pasteurization process.
HISC: Does the nutritional value of berries change when eaten raw versus cooked in a pie?
MK: The best way to eat fruit is raw because some of the nutrients are destroyed by heat.