By Debra Loder, RDN – Wickenburg Community Hospital
It’s Spring! When flowers start blooming, and trees start getting their leaves, my thoughts go to berries. I love berries! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries! They are sweet but a little bit tart and they go in everything. There’s nothing like a salad of baby spinach and tender greens topped with sliced strawberries, toasted pecans, some fresh mozzarella cheese, and a tangy homemade tangerine vinaigrette.
Berries are naturally low in calories. A cup of fresh blueberries checks in at about 82 calories, a cup of blackberries equals about 74 calories, while a cup of strawberries is about 90 calories, and about 61 calories for a cup of fresh raspberries. Berries are loaded with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and lots of other important vitamins.
Berries are great sources of antioxidants with blueberries being one of the best sources. Antioxidants are not necessary for your body to function however they do help to protect your body from damage of free radicals. Free radicals are waste products that are produced by your cells. Free radicals can cause damage to healthy cells. Research shows that by eating blueberries regularly, cell damage can be reduced by 20%.
Because of their high fiber content, berries can also help control blood glucose and cholesterol. In addition, berries can help eliminate constipation.
Fresh berries can be expensive when not in season, however, frozen berries make a more affordable substitute. Frozen berries work just fine in yogurt parfaits, smoothies, and berry compotes. It is important to select frozen berries that are not sweetened with sugar.
For a super easy smoothie for two, break a large banana in chunks and freeze it overnight. In the morning add 2 Cups of Milk, the banana and 1 cup of frozen berries of your choice to a blender container. Cover and blend until smooth and thick. Pour into two glasses and enjoy with a friend.
You’ve heard that old saying about an apple a day keeping the Dr. away, the same might hold true by eating a cup of berries a day!