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Toi Degree: Celebrate National Berries Month

Did you know that July is the month known as “National Berries Month?”
This includes everything from blackberries to blueberries to raspberries.
Berries are bursting with vitamins and minerals, many of which are classified as antioxidants. Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries were among the top 11 foods for antioxidant activity. Antioxidants may help increase our immune function and protect against cancer and heart disease.
And to top it all off, berries are also delicious! Check out the tips below to increase your berry consumption.
• Try adding sliced strawberries to a bowl of whole grain cereal, stir raspberries into vanilla yogurt, or sprinkle blueberries on a salad.
• If you like to grill, try making fruit kabobs that incorporate berries with other fruits such a pineapple chunks, bananas and grapes.
• If you like ice cream, try cutting your portion size in half and add different berries to make your cool treat higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
• Keep berries on hand in different forms.
• Most berries are naturally sweet and require little effort to prepare.
• Berries do not always have to be fresh; you can keep a variety on hand in frozen form to throw in yogurt or smoothies! Blend fat-free or low fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit for a smoothie.
• Dried fruit is a great alternative to keep in your desk or bag. Often you can find dried cranberries and blueberries.
What to look for when shopping.
• Avoid buying bruised or oozing berries, and make sure you turn the container over to check berries at the bottom.
• Look for firm, plump, full-colored berries. At home, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
• Wash fruits before preparing or eating. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands and dry after.
Make July fun and nutritious by celebrating National Berries Month and adding more berries to your diet. Make it a point to explore different ways to use berries in cooking. Remember to be brave and broaden your food horizons, you never know if you will like something unless you try it…enjoy!
For additional recipes and information about berries visit:
www.blueberry.org
www.ncstrawberry.com
www.cranberries.org
For more information about berries or other nutrition information, contact the Cooperative Extension at 704-216-8970.
Toi N. Degree is a family & consumer education agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. You can email her at toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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