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There are so many tasty ways to celebrate National Berries Month!  Berries include everything from blackberries and blueberries to raspberries and strawberries. Berries are bursting with vitamins and minerals, many of which are classified as antioxidants.

There are so many tasty ways to celebrate National Berries Month!

Berries include everything from blackberries to blueberries and raspberries to strawberries. Berries are bursting with vitamins and minerals, many of which are classified as antioxidants.

Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture found that blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries were among the top 11 foods for antioxidant activity. Antioxidants may help increase our immune function and protect against cancer and heart disease.

Each variety of berry offers heart-healthy benefits. A single cup of strawberries gives you more than a day’s supply of vitamin C. One cup has 46 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Raspberries contain strong antioxidants that fight against heart and circulatory disease and age-related decline. One cup has 64 calories and 8 grams of fiber.

Blackberries are among the highest in antioxidants and fiber. Blueberries are also among the highest in antioxidants. These tiny berries may make heart blood vessels less vulnerable to inflammation

Try adding sliced strawberries to a bowl of whole grain cereal, stir raspberries into vanilla yogurt, or sprinkle blueberries on a salad. If you like ice cream, try cutting your portion size in half and add different berries to make your cool treat higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Most berries are naturally sweet and require little effort to prepare. They do not always have to be fresh; you can keep a variety on hand in frozen form to throw in yogurt or smoothies. Blend fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit for a smoothie. Dried fruit is a great alternative to keep in your desk or bag.

What to look for when shopping? Avoid buying bruised or oozing berries, and make sure you turn the container over to check berries at the bottom. Look for firm, plump, full-colored berries.

At home, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Wash fruits before preparing or eating. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands and dry after.

Make July fun and nutritious by celebrating National Berry Month and adding more berries to your diet. Make it a point to find different ways berries can be used in cooking. Remember to be brave and broaden your food horizons, you never know if you will like something unless you try it.

Here is a simple recipe using a variety of berries!

Berry Good Overnight Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (any flavor)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries (or any fresh, frozen or canned fruit)

Add each of these ingredients beginning with oatmeal to a cup or bowl.

Refrigerate overnight and enjoy for breakfast.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 135 mg sodium, 61 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 16 g protein.

Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact her at 308-385-5088 or at cwells2@unl.edu. Visit the Hall County website at www.hall.unl.edu

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