After a long winter and an even longer spring we’ve finally made it to the season coveted by all Ontarians, summer. It’s a time where we come fully out of hibernation and say hello to the wonderful world of the outdoors. With summer, nature offers us some of its most wonderful gifts. The produce section in our grocery stores becomes bursting with fabulous colors and wonderful scents.
Berries become the fruit of choice as they fill up the aisles with their various colors. Berries of all sorts offer us tremendous health benefits. They have been deemed “superfoods” as they are loaded with antioxidants and other chemicals that protect us from various conditions such as heart disease, cataracts, allergies, sun damage, and most health disorders.
Berries contain a class of chemicals called phytonutrients. These nutrients act as a protective agent for the plants, so death from disease, pests, and poor growing conditions can be prevented. When we consume these plant foods, the phytonutrients work in a similar manner in our bodies. For example, anthocyanins which are highly concentrated in blueberries, have been shown to prevent cancer, inflammation, and certain neurological diseases.
A general rule when looking for foods with high phytonutrient content is — the darker, the better. Just think, these bright fruits that look so delicious to bugs, insects, and animals, need some sort of defense from their vulnerable allure. Next time you’re in the grocery store checking out the seasonal fruits, be sure to pick up some phytonutrient-rich berries.
Tip: While berries are in season, stock them up in resealable bags to freeze and be used in shakes throughout the year.