One of the bright spots of summer is the vibrant fruits and vegetables in season. Berries are surely a favorite, not only for their great taste and vibrant colors, they’re healthy, too.
For example, research has shown that increasing your daily intake of the flavonoid compounds in berries can contribute to your weight loss goals. So get ‘em while they’re ripe!
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries… it’s amazing how such beautiful berries, can be so low in calories and fat, and still so stocked with nutrition. Berries are a prime example of having “low-energy-density,” meaning, there’s not a lot of calorie cost for all the nourishment they provide. Versus something like mayonnaise, which calorie for calorie, provides far less nutrition.
Strawberries, in particular, have been shown to lower insulin levels and reduce post-meal blood sugar. It may be due to a special antioxidant that blocks an enzyme that shuttles excess insulin to fat cells for storage. Raspberries, in particular, contain ketones, a natural substance that has been shown in some studies to prevent accumulation of body fat and deep belly visceral fat in animals.
Berries also help you feel fuller due to their high fiber content, making them a top choice for weight loss meal plans and snacks, considered by some to be great “fat-burners.” Like a lot of high fiber fruits and vegetables, they help slow down digestion and absorption of fructose (fruit sugar).
Here are some of our favorite ways for you to get more berries into your eating plan this summer…and beyond.
- Sprinkle on salads. Don’t limit your salad bowl to spinach, arugula and romaine. Throw handfuls of your favorite berries on top for added flavor, color and vitamins.
- Make a quick sauce. If you cook down berries in a pan with a dash of water or juice, they’re a perfect topper for meats like pork and chicken. Try adding hint of spice, too.
- Smoothies and shakes. Berries are a terrific low-sugar choice of carbs and fiber, that add so much flavor to your favorite green smoothies and protein shakes.
- Breakfast. Some folks swear by eating fruit only for breakfast. If you’re trying it, berries are a perfect choice. Or grab plain yogurt, granola and berries for a powerful parfait.
- Add-ins. Making a protein pancake? Don’t forget the blueberries. How about a nut butter sandwich? No need for jam when you can pile fresh sweet strawberries on top.
- Berry Ice. The simple habit of washing, drying and freezing fresh berries can bring you months of joy in the kitchen. Frozen berries are ready for year-round use, so bag ‘em up!