Summer in Missouri means an abundance of berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, huckleberries, and more.

“Different varieties of these fruits can be harvested from mid-May through October in Missouri, offering us a spectacular opportunity to enjoy these delightful seasonal treasures,” said Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

Berries, including their seeds, are good sources of fiber and are full of protective phytonutrients such as polyphenols along with high proportions of flavonoids including anthocyanins and ellagitannins. 

Berries contain natural antioxidants and are high in vitamin C; micronutrients such as folic acid and selenium; and are good sources of carotenoids.

In epidemiological and clinical studies, these phytonutrients within berries have been associated with prevention of cardiovascular risks and protection of cells from disease-causing free radicals.

“Some researchers suggest that a diet rich in these phytonutrients may help to fight cancer development, help to reduce blood cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation, and lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” said Duitsman.

Additional studies have shown protective effects of eating various berries on age-related neurodegenerative diseases, and cognitive aging.

“While research continues to investigate all of these relationships between berries and better health, we enjoy excellent access to many of these sweet, juicy and refreshing natural treats right here in Missouri,” said Duitsman.

APP, PICKING & GROWING

Consider taking a family outing to one of the many you-pick berry farms in Missouri.

Use the University of Missouri Extensions Seasonal and Simple App to help find locations, dates and hours of operation and contact information.

The App is free, and can be downloaded for iPhone and Android in your App store, or more information can be found at www.missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/nut435.htm.

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