berry nutrition

Nourish Your Skin with Strawberries


Long before there were $100 moisturizers and serums, and beauty marketplaces for buying them, like Sephora and Ulta, people made skin-care products straight from their gardens. Fruits like strawberries played a major role, thanks to their ability to cleanse the skin while maintaining its moisture and leaving behind a healthy glow. In fact, 1950s style icons like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe both attributed their luminous skin to a DIY mask made from mashed strawberries, honey, and a little water.


Turns out they were on to something. As dermatologists have discovered, strawberries are full of a variety of naturally occurring compounds that are incredibly healthy for the skin. These include: 

  • Carbohydrates, which are hydrating.

  • Antioxidants, which protect skin against damage from free radicals as a result of aging and exposure to environmental pollutants. In particular, strawberries have alpha lipoic acid, a compound that slows the breakdown of collagen elastin, and vitamin C, which aids in collagen synthesis and makes the skin look brighter. Strawberries are considered even better for the skin than oranges, another vitamin C powerhouse, because they don’t strip the skin of oils in the same way as citrus.

  • Acids, which are gently exfoliating, helping to remove surface dirt and oils. Salicyllic acid, a well-known anti-inflammatory, is a beta-hydroxy acid that’s often used in acne treatment products. Like the other acids in strawberries, it can also help balance oil production in the skin.

There are dozens of new products on the market containing skin-loving strawberries; look for Fragraria chiloensis extract on the label. A few of the brands that make skin-care products with strawberry include Drunk Elephant, Sugar, the Body Shop, Edible Beauty, Hydropeptide, Eminence, Arbonne, and Volition.


If you want to try making your own strawberry mask, wash a package of strawberries and set aside any squashed or lightly damaged berries, plus the cut-off tops. (Save the other berries for snacking!) Remove the stems and leaves, and mash the berries and tops in a bowl. For oily or normal skin, add honey in about half the amount of the berries. For dry skin, add almost as much honey as berries. Then mix with a little spring water to create a paste. Spread it over the skin with a clean cotton pad or cloth, wait about 5 minutes, then rinse clean for a rosy glow.

Winter Doldrums Got You Down? Give Yourself a Berry Boost!


As the winter—with its cold, short days and long, dark nights—marches on, it’s not uncommon to start feeling low-energy, fatigued, or even down in the dumps. These feelings, plus our tendency to soothe ourselves with comfort foods during the winter months, can create stress that increases the number of free radicals in our bodies. An excess of free radicals can lead to a host of diseases and ailments, among them depression . . . and then the cycle perpetuates itself. But even though we still have a couple of months to go before we can start enjoying longer days and sunshine, we do have a potent weapon against the winter doldrums: berries.

Various studies have shown that the antioxidants in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries can significantly decrease the incidence of depression. Blueberries can even combat genetic and biochemical tendencies toward the depression and suicidal feelings that are often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And because berries help prevent the release of cortisol, the well-known “stress hormone,” experts consider them one of the top foods for boosting mood and energy and improving concentration.

Start the day off on a positive note with a cup of green tea (another great stress reducer), followed by a berry-rich breakfast. If you love hearty breakfasts like pancakes and oatmeal, add a healthy serving of berries for a mood blast. But if a grab-and-go breakfast is more your style, try our Mood-Boosting Berry Smoothie. It’s vegan and gluten-free, and you can even prep the ingredients the night before and store them in the fridge (except the banana; it’ll turn brown in cold storage). If the berries are frozen, allow them to thaw at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, or in the fridge overnight. The next morning, toss everything in the blender, and you’re good to go!


Mood-Boosting Berry Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

1 cup mixed berries 

1 banana

1/2 cup fresh spinach

1/4 cup roasted unsalted walnuts

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more almond milk until it reaches an easily drinkable consistency.

Are Frozen Berries as Nutritious as Fresh? You Bet!


A May article in The Guardian posed the following question and answer:

Q: Fresh [food] is best – right?

A: In fact, studies on the relative benefits of fresh and frozen show no consistent differences.

As far back as the late 1990s, the Food & Drug Administration declared that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. Meanwhile, a more recent story on notes, “Some of the healthiest foods in the market are in the freezer section.” 

So when it comes to those local berries you bought and froze during the summer, rest assured that enjoying them during the fall and winter doesn’t mean that your favorite recipes will lack for any of the health benefits that make strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries the superfoods they are. No matter whether fresh or frozen, berries are nutritional powerhouses that can contribute to a variety of positive health effects, from preventing to disease to maintaining a consistent weight.

The ability of frozen fruit and vegetables to retain their nutritional value has a lot to do with the quick-freezing and flash-freezing technologies that have been developed and refined since the 1920s. These days, frozen berries show no significant difference in nutrient levels as their fresh counterparts. They’ve also improved a lot in texture and flavor, thanks to manufactures’ desire to satisfy the savvy customer’s demand for healthier, better-tasting, and better-quality foods.

So take out a bag or two of your frozen farmers’ market berries and allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge. Add strawberries or blackberries to pancakes or acai bowls, fold blueberries into muffins and breads, and savor raspberries in sauces for meat and fish. Or enjoy enjoy a mix of berries in pies, tarts, trifles, and parfaits—without guilt or fear that they’re not as good for you as their freshly picked friends.