Looking for a fun and healthy adventure for you and the kids this summer? Try berry picking. Kids of all ages (and parents/grandparents too!) can benefit from taking a trip to a local “U-Pick” farm to engage in some wholesome and delicious fun.
Allowing children to understand how food grows will ultimately awaken their senses to enjoy their food more (they can pick and eat). After picking, keep a bowl of fresh berries on the table to allow for grazing throughout the day. Let your kids know that this is a great healthy snack that they can much on any time throughout the day.
In addition to tasting great, berries are very high in phytochemicals such as antioxidants and bioflavonoids. These types of nutrients have demonstrated a beneficial effect in numerous health conditions, including the prevention of oxidative and inflammatory stress on the lining of blood vessels and red blood cells.
When the cells in our body use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals, or by-products, which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers” and can help to prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, and cancer are all known to be, in part, caused by oxidative damage.
In a test that measures the antioxidant potential of a variety of foods—the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test—blueberries came out on top. Wild blueberries, such as those found all over New England, have the highest ORAC value, with the larger blueberries coming in a close second. Blueberries also contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision. And best of all, a cup of blueberries has four grams of fiber and only 83 calories!
Raspberries are rich in anthocyanins, which is a powerful antioxidant, as well as cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as ellagic, coumaric and ferulic acid. Raspberries have 8 grams of fiber and only 64 calories per cup.
While berries are great eaten alone, they can also be made into muffins, cakes, scones and even homemade ice cream. One of my favorite ways to eat berries is with a scoop of fresh, home made whip cream. Also, throw them in a dinner salad for an extra special treat.
–Dr. Keri Marshall MS, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in holistic pediatrics and women’s medicine.