Bunches of blackberries

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Blackberries abound in August, and you may have noticed these vibrant little purple fruits popping up at farmer’s markets or growing the garden. Blackberries are not only delicious, but offer many health benefits. Blackberries are a rich source of the plant phytochemical known as anthocyanin, which acts as an antioxidant by suppressing damage to cells that occurs from oxidation over time. Blackberries, along with other berries, are known fighters of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

Blackberries have appeared in medical history for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans used blackberry roots and leaves to remedy everything from diarrhea and dysentery to sore throats, venomous bites, and gout. The blackberry was known as the “gout berry” in 17th century Europe, as it was commonly used to treat this condition.

According to the USDA nutrient database, 1 cup of fresh blackberries contains about 60 calories and 7 grams of fiber. Berries offer a low calorie and tasty way to get you on track to the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber needed daily for gut health, weight loss, and diabetes and heart disease management. Blackberries are also an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C, packing in 40 percent of the recommended daily value.

Blackberries should be consumed within 3-4 days after purchase or picking, and should only be washed right before eating as they are susceptible to becoming mushy. Add blackberries to smoothies, yogurt, tossed salads, or oatmeal.

The following dressing can be easily whipped up and drizzled over any summer salad. I like to pair this vinaigrette with spinach, grated carrots, roasted beets, and top with goat cheese and chopped walnuts or pecans.

Blackberry lime vinaigrette:

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries, rinsed

1/4 cup walnut oil

Juice of 1 lime

5 large mint leaves, roughly chopped

Directions: Using a handheld blender or food processor, puree all ingredients together until they form a uniform dressing (a regular blender will also work). Add a dash of honey or sugar if you need this to be sweeter. Drizzle on the salad fixings suggested above. Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to one week.

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Recipe and article by Natalie Colla, CDE, RDN, LDN. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Idaho Dietetics Program, registered dietitian, and diabetes educator with Kootenai Clinic Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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