Friday Fitness and Food: Berry Good for You
June 20th marked the first day of summer this year, and with summer comes a plentiful growing season in the United States. Berries are one of the all-star crops we get to enjoy throughout the summer. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are some of the more popular berries here in the states and in addition to being low fat, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, and sodium free, each comes with its own extraordinary nutritional profile. Find out what benefits each type of berry touts and try some of these healthy, delicious recipes to help you begin to reap the rewards of these summer fruit superstars.
Among the berry world, blackberries are at the top of their class. Their dark blue color means blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits helping your cells fight against free radicals and environmental carcinogens. They are high in bioflavonoids, vitamin C, and fiber while having a low calorie count, 1 cup equals 62 calories. The high tannin content of blackberries helps to tighten tissue which means younger looking skin. Finally, some studies have shown that the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber in blackberries may help to lower your risk for heart disease.
While blackberries may be nutritional powerhouses they aren’t the sweetest of berries, which is why they lend themselves well to this dipping sauce recipe for chicken nuggets.
Due to the diverse range of phytochemicals contained in blueberries, they have a host of biological properties including antioxidant, anticancer, anti-neurodegerative, and anti-inflammatory. Since blueberries contain all of these properties they are a top pick when it comes to conducting studies to connect their benefits when it comes to disease. One such study found that blueberries could possibly delay the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzhiemer’s disease. Another study analyzed specific blueberry extracts used to fight cancer and found that the Anthocyanin fractions of blueberries were the strongest, inhibiting cancer cell proliferation at much lower concentrations than it’s other fractions.
Skip the pancakes and parfaits made with blueberries and try this out of the box, delicious Blueberry and Feta Bulgur Salad with Mint Dressing at your next picnic or BBQ.
When it comes to an outstanding nutritional profile raspberries top the charts. To begin with raspberries are rich in vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber. In addition, they are also a very good source of copper and a good source of vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium. Recently, raspberry studies are producing exciting results and researchers are discovering new areas where the berries can be of use. Two compounds found in raspberries, raspberry ketone (also called rheosmin) and a type of flavonoid called tiliroside, are of particular interest when it comes to management of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Check out this elegant yet simple, (it utilizes a slow-cooker), Festive Red Berry Crostini to try at your next dinner party.
The final super berry on the list is the strawberry. Just one serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, twice as much fiber as a serving of grapes, about half the sugar of an apple, and a third of the calories of a banana. Strawberries are packed with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients including potassium and folate. Eating one serving of eight strawberries a day may improve heart health, help manage diabetes, support brain health, and reduce the risk of some cancers. In addition, strawberries are wonderfully versatile and can be enjoyed many ways so do yourself a favor and grab a handful today!
Replace the vegetable oil in this recipe with coconut or olive oil and you have protein-packed deliciously satisfying Quinoa, Black Bean & Strawberry Salad make ahead salad for a healthy, complete lunch.
Healthy “Any Berry” Recipes
Healthy Emergency Chocolate Fix – This recipe can easily be used with any berry (or other fruit for that matter) you choose or even a mix of several. Add in some raw cacao powder, coconut oil, and raw honey and you have not only a decadent dessert, but one full of nutrition as well.
Sunshine Fruit Pizza – Serve this as a snack or healthy dessert that will satisfy even the most challenging sweet tooth.