Sunday, April 3, 2011

Berry Me

I love all berries, especially when they pretty and plump. They make me happy.

I put them in oatmeal, in yogurt, and in smoothes. And blueberries are my absolute favorite to eat plain (or with gobs of whipped cream).

I was Latvian camp in Three Rivers, Michigan with all of my best girlfriends from Chicago. Oh you're probably wondering why Latvian camp- well my two great girlfriends from childhood are Latvian and Polish. We tried Polish camp, but we didn't like it so Latvian camp it was.

We got to be away from home for weeks and experienced tons of freedom. Of course there were activities, but there was also plenty of down time and having the independence felt amazing.
But along with that feeling of freedom came lots of getting into trouble. I think that's where you learn your limits on what you think you can do and get away with.

So you're wondering why blueberries have anything to do with this?? Well we would go blueberry picking a couple times a year, usually on our way there and then on the way home. Some of the BEST blueberries I have ever had. We would spend hours in the fields, hanging out in the sun, running around the patches when we got tired of picking. I looked forward to it every year. So I think that is also why I love blueberries so much. I equate a lot of my life experiences with food and eat more of the things that have wonderful memories tied to them.

One year we picked so many that we had to eat everything we picked before we got to camp. We aren't allowed to have food in the cabins. Makes sense since there are animals, bugs, etc. So the day we got to camp we just kept eating them and eating them. Maybe POUNDS of them. Well one of my girlfriends got really sick later in the evening and was sick the whole night, fever and all. I won't go into all the details, but it was blueberry overload, actually it was just gross. Obviously that isn't something we should have done, but I couldn't imagine them going to waste. Needless to say I don't think she ate blueberries any time soon.

Here are some great reasons why you should eat (not inhale) them:

  1. They are good for your brain: Investigators with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston found that the polyphenols in berries help the part of the brain that takes care of regular maintenance and "housekeeping." Blueberries and strawberries were said to contain the most polyphenols.
  1. They may help you lose weight: Berries are loaded with the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin. This antioxidant is said to be able to alter the activity of genes found in human fat cells, making it more difficult to put on weight if you are regularly consuming anthocyanins.
  2. They are good for your eyes: Berries, especially blueberries and raspberries, contain luteinin the pigment of their skin, which is important for healthy eyes.
  3. They are anti-carcinogens: Christine Sardo, who manages clinical trials on berry consumption and cancer prevention for Ohio State University's College of Medicine, found that rats that ate a diet consisting of 10 percent black raspberries showed reductions in oral, esophageal, and colon cancers of about 50 percent compared to rats that did not eat berries. Sardo concluded that berries contain potent anticancer compounds including calcium, folic acid, fiber, and various phytochemicals. Specifically, black raspberries slow the growth rate of premalignant cancerous cells through a process called apitosis, therefore stimulating those cells to die.
  4. They help slow down the aging process: The powerful antioxidants in berries prevent free radical damage in your body. And less free radical damage means slowing down the aging process and helping you live longer! (That is all you had to say).

I hope to go visit that old camp (opened in 1965) soon.

I miss my girlfriends that I only get to see once a year. But it's nice to think about all the great life lessons we learned each and every too much of anything, even if it's good for you, can make you sick.

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