Most people can easily identify what a berry is at the grocery store or on a berry bush. They are delicious little bursts of flavor that grow on bushes and small plants close to the ground. They are usually brightly colored and are often round in shape. There are many varieties of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black raspberries, black currants, red currants, gooseberries, and elderberries. There are other, more obscure varieties, but these are the ones most common in our North American culture.
Berries are traditionally eaten raw, cooked down and preserved with sugar as a jam or jelly to be eaten in the winter months, or baked into pies and other desserts. Eating them raw will pack the most nutritional punch, since cooking them destroys their beneficial qualities. Berries are easy to pick off of their plants making it a fun activity to do with children. Blueberry picking is especially easy for older people since the plant bears fruit right at chest level. And you will get some good fresh air!
How Can They Help?
Berries are packed with natural anthocyanins, which are the chemical components that give berries their intense color. This natural chemical is helpful because it cleans out the damaging free-radical molecules that can cause inflammation and pain. Berries are so packed with this beneficial natural chemical that they out-perform all other fruits and vegetables in their ability to clean out free-radicals. Even more powerful than broccoli! This should come as a relief to most people since berries are so delicious!
Berries should be eaten by people suffering from conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain, Runner's Knee, Lupus, Gout, or while recovering from an injury because they can help to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with these conditions.
How Can You Use Them?
Berries are delicious eaten plain after washing. But you can also make a delicious smoothie using water, berries, bananas, mango, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and spirulina powder. Smoothies are a great, quick option for busy people in the morning, or as a tasty snack. You could even add just a little less water to the blender and instead of making a smoothie you will make a desert that is similar to ice cream, but without the inflammatory qualities of dairy.
Berries can also be mixed into oatmeal to add natural flavor to it instead of using sugar. Or you could infuse your water with berries to add flavor by putting them into a bottle of water and then filling up the bottle the rest of the way to sip on throughout the day. Frozen berries can also be used in place of fresh berries when their consistency doesn’t matter since freezing them makes them soggy.
Does Organic Matter?
When it comes to berries, buying ones that are grown using organic practices does matter. The pesticides that are used on berry crops are not good for the human body. They can cause even more inflammation in the person who is eating them, which is counterproductive when your goal is to become free from pain and inflammation. Buy organic fresh berries, and wash them well when you get home in a cold water and vinegar bath in the sink. Set them to dry well on a kitchen towel and then put them in a breathable container in the fridge. They will last a few days this way, but you will likely eat them way before they go bad.
If buying fresh organic berries is out of your budget, you can buy frozen organic berries and enjoy the same beneficial effects as their fresh counterparts. This way you will always have access to them, instead of only having them while they are in season.
Berries are easy to add to your diet. They are tasty and can be eaten in a variety of ways. They are readily available at your local grocery store. Or you can find a “you-pick” farm or market because picking fresh berries can be a fun activity for those of all ages.
Try adding some berries to your next grocery list and enjoy the pain relieving qualities they contain! What a delicious way to give help your body eliminate pain!
- Diet and Nutrition by Rudolph Balentine MD
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
- The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray ND and Joseph Pizzorno ND