Eating Healthy: Fruits, Berries, & More

When healthy snacks come to mind, the word that most often starts conversations is "fruit." Along with providing essential vitamins and nutrients, fruits can also keep chronic health conditions at bay and can even serve as natural mood-boosters. As part of a balanced diet, fruits are an essential component to eating and staying healthy. Berries in particular provide a host of health benefits, including fighting oxidative stress that can lead to major illnesses. While any fruit can be eaten alone, they can also be perfectly combined in beautiful fruit arrangements to provide an interesting visual and tantalizing mix of tried-and-true natural flavors.

One of life's sweetest delights are fruit arrangements. As a natural and healthy snack, almost no other grouping of fruits provides more aesthetic value or ready-to-eat snack variety. While many different fruits, like pineapples, apples, oranges, and melons, can be used to make an edible arrangement, berries tend to be the most interesting component of a display. Berries add a pop of bright color to fruit arrangements and can many times be used to direct the eye when arranged by a talented designer. Very often, hands quickly follow gazes and berries are the first to be plucked, eaten, and enjoyed from an edible arrangement.

Of all of the fruits, berries enjoy the best reputation. High in antioxidants, berries can serve as a counter-punch to free radicals and other agents that bring on disease. Studies have shown that they can keep hearts healthy, aid in weight loss, lower blood pressure, and even boost brain function. Berries can even provide a little decadence to a fruit-lover's life. For those who prefer to indulge, coating berries with chocolate and other rich confections can quickly add a bit of sophistication to these natural treats.

While fruit arrangements can be great gifts for anyone, berries are often associated with women. This may be due to history: the task of berry-collection has been generally assigned to women since ancient times. The taste, texture, and size of berries also tend to inspire gift-givers to think of women in their lives who would enjoy nature's sweet treats. Brides and mothers are popular recipients of berries, as they can often engender thoughts of the ultra-feminine. A woman's profession or even the time of year can influence what type of berry-inspired gift is most appropriate for a recipient. The health benefits of gifting these fruits to women are profound, as science has shown that ladies who eat berries tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and heart attack than those who do not.

Berries have long been a traditional part of Valentine's Day celebrations. For centuries, strawberries have been considered a symbol of love because of their red coloring and shape that resembles a heart. As such, strawberries are still used today in popular celebratory practices like gift-giving. While typically coated in chocolate, strawberries eaten on Valentine's Day can also be dusted with sugar or dotted with cream cheese for a nontraditional treat. Whether bought from a store or made with two loving hands in a home kitchen, strawberries remain a common fixture during the month of love.

Today, the appreciation for berries as a decadent treat can be found in all sectors of society. These fruity and delightful snacks can be found everywhere from high-end fashion houses like Hermes to the living rooms of football fanatics, who can choose these natural treats over fatty and excessively salty foods. Celebrities who've indulged in delicious coated berries have raised the profile of these treats for decades. Indeed, the serious love of these culinary delights has even inspired academic study. Even when being examined by academics and scientists, one thing's for sure: Berries will always pass the taste test!