Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Fibre is your friend

Fibre provides a lot of health benefits for the human body.

  • First, it helps normalise and regulate bowel movements, making sure that you do not suffer from constipation. Normal bowel movements ensure that your body is getting rid of toxins and wastes and that they do not accumulate inside your system. 
  • Second, fibre helps lower bad cholesterol levels. Fibre sweeps cholesterol and flushes out of your body. Having high levels of the bad form of cholesterol in your blood stream could cause life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heart attack, hypertension and atherosclerosis. 
  • Third, fibre helps you lose weight (if you need to lose weight).

When I say fibre, I'm not just talking about cereals and pulses (which as everyone knows, are rich in fibre) but the fibre that is to be found in my favourite fruit - berries.

I've always loved berries, ever since I went strawberry-picking with cousins when I was a child growing up in the North West of England. Manchester wasn't all factories and back-to-back housing even then, In fact, I grew up on the SW edge of the city, next to farmland and just a short 5 minute walk from a historic manor house set in its own very large country park. My cousins lived to the SE of  Manchester city centre , in what was then in the neighbouring County of Cheshire.

Since the growth in the produce on offer in the supermarkets, we can enjoy berries all the year round. Frozen, apparently, is a good as fresh - especially when fresh has travelled large distances to get to the shops.

The food and health 'gurus' are particularly enthusiastic about berries at the moment.

"Coming home from berry picking late in the summer with juice smeared all over your face may be a far distant memory for many people, but the benefits that these delicious fruits give us today are just the same. Berries are virtually fat-free, low in sodium and high in vitamins, especially vitamin C and folic acid, and are great for helping to make up the five portions of fruit and vegetables you are recommended to eat each day."

"Berries are low in calories, high in fiber and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally. One cup of strawberries contains over 100 milligrams of vitamin C, almost as much as a cup of orange juice. You need vitamin C for immune system function and for strong connective tissue. Strawberries also add a bit of calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium and have only 53 calories."

"The pigments that give berries their beautiful blue and red hues are also good for your health. Berries contain phytochemicals and flavonoids that may help to prevent some forms of cancer. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that may prevent bladder infections. Eating a diet rich in blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries may help to reduce your risk of several types of cancers. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision."

 But you know what? I don't eat berries because of all these health-enhancing properties. I eat them everyday because I like them - a lot.