It’s time to say bye to berries… Or is it?
I know you don’t want to think about it, but the truth is, winter is on its way, which means all those scrumptious fresh berries are about to skyrocket in price or be taken off the shelf completely. Not only is it a flavour tragedy, but if you’re not careful, it could be a significant loss to your antioxidant intake as well. We all know fresh is best, but when fresh isn’t available anymore, what are your options?
Frozen berries are a great choice when it comes to your berry needs. Particularly if they are frozen immediately after they are picked, they can even more nutritious than fresh berries that, generally when purchased in supermarkets, are a little older (due to transportation and shelf storage). Freezing immediately preserves many nutrients and phytochemicals whilst also inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and slowing down the enzymatic and chemical activity within the fruits. The vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables is also a very sensitive nutrient, with fresh fruit being found to lose about 50% of its vitamin C content within 3 days if not frozen. Even back in 1998, the Food & Drug Administration was promoting the fact that that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. The biggest thing to consider when selecting your frozen berries are additives, your frozen berries should be 100% berry and certified organic if you can.
Dried berries are another amazing choice for keeping your antioxidant and berry intake alive throughout this off-season. Research has shown the antioxidant content of blueberries showed there was no significant difference between fresh, dried, and frozen blueberries (Lohachoompol, Srzednicki, & Craske 2004). Dried fruits have even been said to have a greater nutrient density, greater fibre content, better shelf life and significantly greater phenol antioxidant content when compared to fresh fruit (Vinson et al. 2005). One argument regularly used against dried fruits, are that dried fruits are higher in sugar, and this is just not accurate. So long as the fruit has had no sugar added during drying (e.g. infused), it is impossible for it to have more sugar, as simply, nothing has been added.
The catch is, due to the removal of the water, dried fruits are generally smaller and more concentrated than their fresh form. This means you can eat more dried fruit than you would fresh. Take apricots for example, it would be quite easy to sit there and eat 6 or 7 dried apricots in one sitting, but generally when eating the fresh counterpart, you would eat 1 maybe 2 of the fruits. This is how the sugar intake increases, because you are consuming more than you usually would. The removal of the water causes them to be much more sugar rich only in terms of weight ratio, and this could be where the misconception comes in; it’s not more sugar, just less volume containing that sugar.
Morlife dried berries have visually put these concepts into perspective to make the concept much easier to grasp.
The ORAC graphs represented on the packaging gives a nice and clear picture as to how these dried fruits stack up against other fruits with their antioxidant potential. Even clearer is the great visual calculation comparing a normal daily intake of fruit and vegetables to a single serve of the dried berries.
Lohachoompol, V, Srzednicki, G & Craske, J 2004, ‘The Change of Total Anthocyanins in Blueberries and Their Antioxidant Effect After Drying and Freezing’, Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, vol. 2004, no. 5, pp. 248-252, viewed 7 April 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15577185#
Vinson, J, Zubik, L, Bose, P, Samman, N & Proch, J 2005, ‘Dried fruits: Excellent in Vitro and in Vivo Antioxidants’, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 44-50, viewed 7 April 2014, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jf8016157