Berried treasures: Worth
more than their weight in gold

Fresh summer berries, now appearing in great supply in markets all over the country, are more valuable in terms of your health than an ocean full of buried treasure.

And, the benefits derived from eating fresh berries are worth their weight in gold - berries are little powerhouses of vitamins, minerals and fiber and are among those foods containing the highest amounts of antioxidants. (An antioxidant is the substance that protects cells from being damaged by oxidation.)

Strawberries, for example, contain 16 times more antioxidants than honeydew melons, seven times more than what is found in apples or bananas, and twice that of an orange; just a half-cup of blueberries has the same amount of antioxidants as five servings of foods like carrots, apples, squash, or broccoli; and raspberries have been found to contain 10 times more antioxidants than tomatoes.

Why the interest in berries and antioxidants? Because, a number of evidence-based studies report that foods rich in antioxidants possess anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and heart protective qualities. Berry season is here, making this a good time to purchase berries for both eating out of hand now and for freezing. If you freeze a couple of bagfuls right now, opening the freezer door a few months down the road will be better than finding buried treasure in your own backyard.

SideBar: Fresh Blueberry Pound Cake

1 1⁄2 cups fresh blueberries

1⁄2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup milk

Rinse berries and pat dry. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour one 8-1⁄2 x 4-1⁄2 x 2-1⁄2-inch loaf pan. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Carefully fold in blueberries. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until cake tests done. Let cake rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a wire rack.