Summer Recipes With Fresh Berries

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Seasonal berries give a burst of color and nutrition. They can be paired with other fruits, grilled, added to salads, folded into muffin mix, or sprinkled atop pancakes or waffles.

Illinois strawberries typically ripen around Memorial Day and blueberries around the Fourth of July. Not only can you pick them fresh, but they can also be a fun family activity with all the U-pick operations around the state. Check out ilfbpartners.com/upick for a link to the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s listing of U-pick farms, from Austin’s Strawberries & Red Raspberries in Tremont to White’s Berry Farm in Galena.

Dietitians consider berries a nutritional powerhouse. What makes them so special? First, they have high levels of phytonutrients – those naturally occurring nutrients that help protect cells from damage. Berries can also keep you mentally sharp, help manage diabetes (due to high amounts of fiber), may prevent Parkinson’s disease and could boost your heart health. They also help with weight control due to their fiber and liquid content, which gives a sense of fullness.

Just take a look at what recent research has discovered.

Women who eat about two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries a week experience less mental decline over time than peers who went without them, according to a study published in the Annals of Neurology. In the study, researchers reviewed data from more than 16,000 women over age 70. Those with the highest berry intake postponed cognitive decline by about 2.5 years.

Even people with a strong inherited risk for heart disease may find that a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, including berries, can reduce their chances of having a heart attack, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine. Researchers looked at diet and heart attack numbers among 27,000 people of diverse backgrounds and found that loading up on fruits and vegetables seems to modify the genetic risk carried in the 9p21 gene, known to be related to heart disease.

People who eat at least two servings of berries a week have a 25 percent less chance of developing Parkinson’s disease than their peers, according to research published in the journal Neurology.

If that’s not enough to make you want to add some berries to your cup of yogurt or bowl of oatmeal, try the following recipes.

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