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Berry good for your health

If you’ve bought any fresh fruit lately, you know berries are in season right now. But not only are berries delicious, they’re also a terrific food for getting much-needed fiber and for fighting disease.

“Berries are some of the most powerful disease-fighting foods available,” says Bonnie Brost, an Essentia Health registered dietitian. “They are rich in antioxidants that help turn off signals that trigger inflammation and decrease damaging free radicals — molecules that can damage organs and cells in our body.”

Berries deep in color, such as blueberries, contain an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which work with another antioxidant, quercetin, to help slow age-related memory loss and decrease inflammation.

“There’s even an acid inside berries called ellagic acid, which protects against cancer,” says Brost.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, people become more susceptible to the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation as they age. Berries help prevent those effects by turning off the inflammation signals triggered by free radicals.

A recent study also shows eating berries could reduce your chance of a heart attack. Women in the study who ate the most blueberries and strawberries were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack, compared to women who ate berries once a month or less. The findings appear online Jan. 14 in the journal Circulation.

Some “Berry” Interesting Facts on Berries:

• Strawberries contain more vitamin C in a one-cup serving than one orange and are particularly high in folic acid.

• Blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries each contain 8 grams of fiber in one cup.

• Cranberries not only combat urinary tract infections, but also are a natural probiotic, supporting healthy bacteria that grow in the gastrointestinal tract and aid in digestion.

Ripe for the picking:

• Strawberries: Mid-June to mid-July

• Raspberries: Early July to mid-August and then late August through September

• Currants: July

• Juneberries and gooseberries: Mid-July to late August

• Blueberries: Mid-July to late August

• Blackberries: Mid-August to mid-September