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Yesterday we talked about saving money by eating foods that are in season and locally grown in your area. Today, going hand in hand with that idea, we are going to talk about adding berries to your diet. Since many fruits and vegetables begin to lose some of their nutritional value after they are picked, eating locally picked (ie. most recently picked) fruit allows you to get the most bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking (and, more often than not, financially speaking as well!) Many berries, particularly strawberries, are in season in the mid spring to early summer (depending on where you live) so now is a great time to try and experiment and find ways to add them into your diet.
Berries have a variety of different health benefits (in addition to being delicious!) According to HeathCastle, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries all have very high ORAC scores, which is an indication of the antioxidant content of these fruit. Additionally, these are four of the top 20 most concentrated food sources of antioxidants.
As we talked about in Try It Out Tuesdays - Alliums, fruits and veggies are often filled with chemicals called phytonutrients (or phytochemicals), which are naturally occurring beneficial compounds found in plants, and berries are no exception. Often times these phytonutrients are found in the skin of fruit and vegetables, so berries are a great concentrated source, since you always eat the skin! Some of the phytochemicals that are present in berries are polyphenols, which are the same phytochemicals that make both wine and chocolate beneficial to your health. However, unlike wine and chocolate, berries are not fattening or alcoholic, they contain very few calories, and they are full of natural fiber. Overall, they are a win-win food!
In addition, blueberries have the highest ORAC score of the berries. This means they are literally packed full of antioxidants, and have a great capacity to destroy free radicals in your body (a good thing!) According to the World's Healthiest Foods, blueberries are bursting with the phytochemical anthocyanidins, which help to "neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, ulcers, heart disease, and cancer." Additionally, these same phytochemicals help to reduce blood glucose levels after carbohydrate heavy meals, which can help to prevent the insulin spike the eventually causes your body to become insulin resistant, which results in diabetes.
Finally, in a recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they found that eating around one cup of berries every day for eight weeks helped to increase levels of "good" HDL cholesterol while also lowering blood pressure, which are both good news when it comes to keeping a healthy heart.
Ways to Incorporate Them In Your Diet
All in all, berries are a great choice, and can be added to you diet in a multitude of ways. Here are some suggestions:
- sprinkle berries on top of yogurt (especially greek yogurt - the sourness and sweetness are a great combination!)
- Angel Food Cake with berries
- Make a berry smoothie
- Muffins, Breads, Scones, etc.
- Vanilla Bean Parfaits (I would use fresh berries instead of frozen if you have them)
- Cranberry Sauce
- Strawberry or Blueberry Jam
- Blueberry Pie
My only caveat about berries would be that since many berries fall in the dirty dozen produce list, it would be a good idea to try and get them organically grown if at all possible.
How are you going to try and add berries to your diet this week? I'm going to a Memorial Day Celebration, and I plan on brining a berry trifle. I am also going to get some fresh, organic strawberries and snack on them!
I'm reading this: Try It Out Tuesday - BerriesTweet this! Posted by Lauren on Monday, May 24, 2010
Topics Try It Out Tuesday