It’s that time of year where berries are in abundance. They epitomize summer and are fresh, juicy and tasty!
Berries and cherries are nature’s natural pharmacy. They are packed with antioxidants, giving them those beautiful deep colours of blues, purples and reds. These antioxidants have a myriad of health benefits: anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal to name just a few.
These small fruits are also rich in polyphenols, which protects the fruit from natural preditors while growing. Research has shown that these compounds protect against Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes as well as having anti-cancer properties.
So, let’s meet these berry wonders……
For centuries, black currents have been grown for medicinal purposes. They are bursting with vitamin C, making them ideal to help fight the common colds. Their fibre and seeds are also a natural remedy for constipation. They can be quite tart so you may find it is best eat them with a naturally sweeter fruit.
Blueberries, are our secret weapon to help us fight old age! They are shown to protect against age related diseases such as dementia, cataracts and glaucoma..
Strawberries, one of the few antiviral foods, are also used to treat inflammatory conditions such as gout, arthritis, eczema and asthma. Just 5 strawberries can give us the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, in other words, great for healthy skin. This wonderful fruit is also rich in vitamin K, important for blood clotting and bone health and they are also rich in folate making them ideal for pregnant women.
Raspberries, as well as all the health benefits mentioned above, contain phytonutrients, known to control weight management and obesity. Studies have shown the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits on breast, cervical, colon and prostrate cancers. In Greek mythology these tiny berries were used for fertility.
I also want to include cherries even though they do not technically qualify as a berry. They are packed with help benefits including melatonin to help you sleep and relax, polyphenols to reduce both joint pain and allergic reactions involving histamine and finally they contain both ellergic and gallic acids, believed to play a role in preventing the growth of malignant cells. What more could we ask for!
We are spoilt for choice this time of year but to reap all the benefits, it is best to eat these fruits whole, without any additional sugar. Personally, I often mix a few mixed berries with yoghurt on my porridge to colour up my morning. On a practical note, berries are also easy to carry in a Tupperware box for pack lunches!
I want to share this very tasty recipe with you that has been a great success at dinner parties.
Coconut Blueberry Crumble (Christine Bailey and Lorraine Nicolle’s recipe)
115g shredded coconut
115g pecan nuts
400g fresh blueberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp red grape juice (or water)
Place coconut, nuts and dates in a food processor to make a course crumble.
In a baking dish, add the blueberries, cinnamon and grape juice.
Cover the blueberries with the crumble topping and bake for 20 mins at 190 C/ 375F or gas mark 5.