Ripe berries are one of the gastronomic highlights of summer—and they're some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. That's true whether you choose familiar favorites like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries (and their cousins—boysenberries, Marionberries, olallieberries, loganberries, and others); increasingly available specialty berries such as currants and lingonberries; or more exotic newcomers like goji berries (available freeze dried, these Himalayan berries are also called wolfberries).
It's long been known that berries are powerhouses when it comes to the essential nutrients. They're especially high in fiber and vitamin C (one cup of sliced strawberries, for instance, contains 98 percent of the recommended daily value). The levels of other vitamins and minerals—such as vitamins A and E, folic acid, and potassium—vary according to the type of berry. And recent research shows that berries' bright hues, from scarlet to royal blue to finger-staining purple, indicate another of their healthful properties: Their pigments derive from phyto‑ chemicals, which numerous studies have established as powerful cancer-fighting agents. It's no wonder that berries of all kinds are frequently called superfoods.
Your consumption doesn't have to stop when berry season winds down: Frozen, dried, and even juiced berries have similarly healthful properties. If you want to dress up fresh berries, keep it simple. Top mixed berries with granola and a drizzle of honey, fold blackberries into a bowl of plain yogurt, drop generous amounts of blueberries into corn-meal pancake batter, or toss sliced strawberries into a spinach salad. Or just help yourself to a handful, and indulge your palate and your health.