Berries: An Ounce of Prevention
A feast for the eyes as well as the palate, berries have moved beyond their traditional summertime slot to year-round availability, both fresh and frozen.
Diets high in fiber may help alleviate and prevent a number of childhood digestive problems in children that could lead to serious complications or diseases later in life. Furthermore, epidemiological studies have reported people who eat higher amounts of fiber have lower risk of CVD and hypertension.
The role of fiber in decreasing the risk for cancer of the bowels still merits continued research, but there is certainly enough evidence that hedging one’s bet with a diet rich in fiber is a good idea. Just one cup of berries provides from 10 to 30 percent of daily fiber needs. More importantly, it provides this fiber in just two and a half to four percent of one day’s calories.Vitamin C:
All berries are a superb source of vitamin C. One serving (about eight medium strawberries) puts you over the top for daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant correlated with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease as well as a reduced risk for developing CVD and angina.
Vitamin C is also important for building and maintaining healthy gums, strong connective tissue and a healthy immune system. It also helps the absorption of iron from plant foods. And it is one of the nutrients the Dietary Guidelines Committee found to be lacking in the American diet.
Popping a pill would not be nearly as effective as adding a cup of berries to one’s daily diet. Research shows the clear advantage food has over supplements in promoting health. Foods contain thousands of compounds that act both individually and together to help prevent disease. Even better, they often work synergistically: Together they are more effective than they would be individually. That doesn’t happen with supplements. More importantly a pill will never taste as wonderful as a handful of ripe blueberries.Potassium:
This is a mineral receiving much more respect these days. Studies showing people who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products, and moderately low in total fat, have much healthier blood pressure. The potassium content of this type of diet is thought to heavily influence its impact on blood pressure, an important factor in heart disease and stroke. While not a major source of potassium, berries contribute from four to eight percent of daily potassium needs in just one serving.Folic Acid:
Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood considered to be an independent marker for heart disease. Studies have shown the increased blood levels of homocysteine are associated with significant risk for CVD in both men and women. Folic acid helps reduces serum levels of homocysteine. Along with other nutrients and fiber support heart health, berries contribute two to 12 percent of daily folate needs.
|5 A Day the Color Way|
Health experts recommend five to nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables for better health. Forty percent of Americans know they need to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, yet the average daily per capita consumption is just 3.6 servings.
Attention to the obesity epidemic and its frightening health implications, along with predictions this may be the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents, are fueling an increased desire for healthier diets and lifestyles. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-rich foods low in calories. Increasingly Americans recognize eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer high-calorie low-nutrient foods is the key to a diet promoting health and reducing risk of disease.
5 A Day the Color Way (www.shop5aday.com/acatalog/About_5_A_Day.html) is a consumer tested campaign widely used by fruit and vegetable producers and retailers to reach out to consumers and give them an easy tool to increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables they eat.
The Color Way logo and materials prompt consumers to eat at least one serving from each of the five color groups every day. It is a simple but powerful marketing message that really works at point-of-sales, on packaging or in promotions.
To download the table on berries' nutrient compositions, please follow the "Download Now" link below.