the natural way

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jim Fain I noticed the U-PICK signs sprouting up along the roadside for blueberries. That means blackberries will make a major debut soon at our local open-air markets.

Our local ones are usually large, plump, beautifully colored, juicy, sweet and good for you beyond measure. Delicious and functional - a perfect union of duality, sure to please. Those locally-grown, along with all the other terrific choices of produce, mean you should stock up as much as you can while available.

Blackberries have sidekicks that share much of the same nutritional benefits. They include purple grapes, boysenberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries. A short list of their phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals includes anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechins, carotenoids, folate, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, riboflavin and niacin. Of course you get the benefit of the pulpy fiber, too.

Blueberries are one of the 10 best foods you can eat whether fresh, frozen or dried. Sometimes called star fruit, the berries have a long and important history in the American Indian's diet. The berries were pounded into meat to preserve it while the plant and the berries were used for medicinal purposes such as easing the discomfort of childbirth and for diarrhea.

Europeans call blueberries "bilberries." It is said that bomber pilots in England during WWII ate large amounts of blueberries to improve their night vision. Science supports this story by establishing the blueberry to be very high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that weren't even discovered until recently. Research done through the USDA at Tufts University determined a cup a day of blueberries might dramatically impact dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Muscle (motor) control was improved and new brain cells grew when blueberries were added to the diet.

Think of all of these berries as providing direction and organizing the symphony of health in your system. All of the berries have amazing qualities and contribute to something much more than the individual voice. With this in mind, snarf down a wide range of berries, as they become seasonally available, being sure they were grown close to home.

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