JEFF TIEDEMAN: Berry good for youHealth benefits complement their taste and versatility.
Can you get too much of a good thing? In the case of our raspberries, the answer is yes and no.
When I first relocated some raspberry “suckers” (extended underground shoots that develop roots and individual plants) to a spot next to our house about five years ago, several of my gardening friends said that if left unchecked, they would take over.
Well, they were right. About the only thing more invasive in our yard is the snow on the mountain that Therese regrets transplanting back in the 1990s.
Actually, we’ve done a pretty good job of confining the raspberries to an area about 4 feet wide by 12 feet long. And while some have grown under the sidewalk into my garden, I’ve dug them up promptly and placed them in another patch behind our garage that is coming along nicely.
But when it comes to things that are good for our health, studies have shown you just can’t beat berries. Fresh berries of all kinds are high in vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and powerful phytochemicals, which have been proven to reduce the risk of everything from heart disease to memory loss and cancer.
That point was brought home again this week, and the results will please berry lovers, especially those who are fond of the ones that are more readily available and affordable.
In the past, it was thought that some berries, particularly the black raspberry, were more effective in preventing certain types of cancer.
But researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) have concluded that may not be the case.
Their research shows that a variety of other types of berries — including blueberries, strawberries and red raspberries along with more exotic and expensive varieties like noni, acaí and wolfberries (goji) — may prevent cancer about as well as previously studied black raspberries. The preliminary findings are published in the current issue of the journal Pharmaceutical Research.
Because the other berry types generally contain lower levels of anthocyanins and ellagitannins (two chemopreventive compounds) than black raspberries, researchers initially thought they would be considerably less active than black raspberries in preventing carcinogen-induced esophagus cancer in rats. But their research disproved that assumption.
While the nutritious and health aspects of berry consumption definitely are a plus, I have to admit that their taste and versatility is what makes them one of my favorite foods.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sweet enough to be served just as they are, and I do like them that way, but they’re pretty good in/with a variety of other foods.
We put raspberries on our morning oatmeal as well as freezing some for later use when they come in season. (This should be sooner than usual according to Minnesota Agriculture Department. In fact, Paul Hugunin, director of the Minnesota Grown Program, said the strawberry crop also is shaping up to be very good.)
I’m also contemplating making some raspberry jam, which is one of my favorites. I remember getting little jars of homemade raspberry jam from my Uncle Fritz, who used to have a raspberry patch in his backyard.
And I can’t forget desserts.
Fresh raspberries right out the door: That’s a good thing.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.