It’s summer, and that means some amazing berries are now in season and ready to be eaten! Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries…Are these foods the healthiest on Earth? These plump, juicy fruits have fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
First, let’s talk about berries. Do you know how many types there are to choose from? Don’t limit yourself to the usual suspects. Acai, boysenberries and cranberries are great options. You may even want to consider some unusual berries such as huckleberries, elderberries, gooseberries and salmonberries. Eating a variety of healthy berries can help you get more nutrients.
What Makes Berries So Great?
Berries have a great nutritional breakdown, which is why they are a favorite among dietitians. They are a naturally sweet, low-calorie food. Per 1-cup serving of fresh berries, most have 50-75 calories. They are a great way to get that sweet taste without overindulging!
Berries are mostly carbohydrates (around 10-15 grams per serving), but they are also a high-fiber food. The American Heart Association recommends 25-30 grams of fiber every day. Fiber can help you stay fuller for longer, improve your blood pressure and cholesterol, and help with constipation. Many Americans fall short of this recommendation and get between 10-15 grams/day. Berries can be a great way to increase your fiber intake. They typically add 3-6 grams of fiber per serving.
Add up the Vitamins and Minerals
Berries have several vitamins and minerals that help keep your body going strong. They can be a great source of nutrients, but should be used as an addition to a balanced diet. One serving of berries can’t give you everything you need, but it can give you a great jump start!
- Vitamin C supports your immune system and can speed up healing. It can help reduce hypertension and has been shown to fight free radicals.
- Potassium has many functions, including regulating blood pressure, decreasing muscle cramps, decreasing anxiety and promoting brain health.
- Manganese is essential for a healthy metabolism, calcium absorption, and regulating blood sugar.
- Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, regulating calcium levels, and bone metabolism.
Antioxidants Improve Health
Berries are a great source of antioxidants. During cell production, your body produces free radicals. Antioxidants are in substances that slow down damage to your cells by reducing oxidative stress from these free radicals. By reducing this stress, the risk of developing diseases can decrease. Different types of berries contain a variety of antioxidants that all provide multiple health benefits.
We know that berries are a great source of nutrition, but how do you fit them into your day? Here are a few ideas to get started.
- Pack them in your lunch box.
- Mix them into your oatmeal.
- Toss them into your salad.
- Have fruit salad for dessert.
- Try a smoothie for a snack.
- Top your yogurt with them.
- Eat them as an after-work or after-school snack.
Enjoy your day and remember to pack in a serving or two of berries!