July is National Blueberries Month, but blueberries are not the only berries packed full of health benefits. All berries contain an array of vitamins and minerals plus dietary fiber – generally the darker the berry, the greater the benefits especially to fight disease. Choose fresh, frozen or dried berries as they all contain nearly the same antioxidant levels – of course growing your own is the best choice!
Blueberry fruit and leaf are one of the oldest remedies in the history of medicine and are also a powerhouse of phytochemicals.
Fresh berries have a high level of antioxidants in comparison to other fruits and vegetables and contain vitamin A and C, as well as compounds such as natural sugars. In addition to helping your brain and heart, blueberries also contain lutein, an important carotenoid for maintaining eye health. Blueberry leaf tea in addition to providing antioxidants can slightly lower blood sugar in “borderline” cases as well as prolonging the effects of insulin or reducing the amount of insulin needed.
Fresh cranberries, which contain the highest level of beneficial nutrients, are the bright red cousin of blueberries. They are high in vitamin C and A, potassium and fiber and have long been valued as one of nature’s best weapons against cystitis and urinary tract infections with their antibacterial qualities, but they also promote gastrointestinal and oral health. Although not easy to grow in your backyard, they are readily available fresh for Thanksgiving and freeze well.
RED & BLACK RASPBERRY
Picked and eaten since prehistoric times, red & black raspberry fruit and leaves have been used for centuries as a beneficial for good health. The fruit is nutritious and mildly astringent and is said to have a beneficial effect on the heart, plus the juice makes an excellent beverage. Raspberries have been found to be among the strongest berries for attacking free radicals and fighting cancer. Red raspberry leaf tea contains vitamins A, C, D, E and F as well as iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium and has been connected to female health, including pregnancy as well as making a good mouthwash for oral health. Numerous varieties of this cane berry are available to grow plus you can also find them in the wild.
Easy to grow plus found in the wild, strawberries contain the highest vitamin C content of any of the commonly grown berries. They are important for improving brain and immune function plus overall health. Strawberries also have a healthy dose of magnesium and fiber.
Although always best eaten fresh, try making this freezer jam to preserve the harvest from your garden or grocer:
BERRY FREEZER JAM: Puree 3 pints of any berries or a combination such as blueberries, black raspberries and strawberries and strain to remove seeds. Mix 3c berries with 5c sugar and let set 10-15 minutes. Combine 1 box of pectin with 1c water and boil for 1 minute, then pour into berry mixture and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour into clean containers, cover and leave at room temperature overnight. Freeze or keep in refrigerator.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”