Red, blue, black: the small fruits of the forrest present themselves in the most differing shades of colour and provide us with a natural and tasty treat during the warmer summer months. Regularly snacking on berries is in fact absolutely a good thing, as more colourful fruits are actually best for us…and the same is true for vegetables.
What does the colour of fruits and vegetables tell us?
If we have a look at the healthiest of foods in the fruit and vegetable category, it quickly becomes clear that top among the vegetables are dark green leafy vegetables. If we instead consider fruits, the title goes to berries. Their capacity to affect our health in positive ways is first and foremost down to their bright colour. The intense colour is due to the anti-oxidants contained in the fruits, which help to keep our bodies healthy so that we have the energy we need for our everyday lives. Blueberries for example have anthocyanin pigment to thank for their blue colour. This cause-and-effect relationship is also true of vegetables. Beta-carotin is what gives carrots and sweet potatoes their orange colour, and lycopene is responsible for the red colour of tomatoes.
Now that we have this information, it's clear that we should always be choosing the more colourful options when selecting fruits and vegetables. Consider this: red cabbage contains up to eight times the amount of anti-oxidants contained in white cabbage, and even red onions are better for you than yellow onions.
Berries and anti-oxidants: more colourful = healthier
If we look more closely at the health effects of berries, we see that they are much healthier for us when compared to other kinds of fruit. Based on an analysis of precisely the same amount of fruit, apples and bananas contain 60 and 40 units of anti-oxidants respectively, while mango offers 110. Now it get serious though: the number for strawberries is 310, 350 for raspberries and blueberries have 380 units. If the blueberries grow in the wild, they can even contain twice as much as this! Blackberries are truly amazing though as they contain an unbelievable 650 units. Looked at in this way, it's clearly understandable that a study which included more that 100,000 men and women in the US proved that those who regularly include berries in their diets had a markedly lower risk of death related to heart disease. It's also worth mentioning in this context that sour cherries are also very good for our health as they have exceptional anti-inflammatory effects, which can in turn be a help to those who suffer with conditions like gout.
Sweet and healthy – berry ice ideas
In order to have berries in the house throughout the year, you can simply pick up a package of frozen berries. New research has shown that the vitamin content of frozen berries is not so much lower than fresh…it certainly shouldn't dissuade you from using them. There are of course many options when it comes to enjoying berries, and making berry ice is one of the most fun and delicious. Start with some simple frozen berries and mix them to the desired consistency and temperature in a blender. To make your snack more exciting, you might add things like cocoa powder, soy or almond milk, vanilla extract and a few dates (be sure to remove the pit first). When you're creating your special berry treat, simply let your imagination run wild. All the while, you can rest assured that you are in fact doing something to improve your health…which makes it even better! What kind of berry ice are you going to make first?
Source: Dr. Michael Greger and Gene Stone, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Flatiron Books, 2015
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