Summer is well upon us and there are so many things to appreciate; lazy weekend days at the pool, picnics, family get-togethers, etc. One of my favorite things is the abundance of fresh, inexpensive and yes, in-season berries. All of the best: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries . . . I like them all, and by the handful. And did you know that they are not just a sweet treat, but that these bountiful beauties are also great for your health?
Berries and their benefits
Berries are truly one of the most super of all the so-called superfoods! Ok, a little background? Sure, let’s talk about the many amazing benefits of berries:
How about antioxidants? You’ve heard of them, right? Savor some strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries to get a dose of these in the form of anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol. Anthocyanins act as an anti-inflammatory, while ellagic acid can fight infections and resveratrol promotes great skin.
And surely you knew that berries are also packed with fiber and vitamin C, can help lower cholesterol, and they work with just about any meal plan or diet too, thanks to their low glycemic load. In fact, berries have actually been shown to lower blood sugar and reduce insulin response, even in people with insulin resistance!
How to get those benefits
- Keep it simple and just snack on ‘em. Alone or better yet, pair them up with some lean protein. How about yogurt? Or, some nuts, even soft cheese like brie and goat cheese.
- Even add them to main dishes: Atop fish, with salsa, salads, etc. And don’t forget to add them to that oatmeal at breakfast
- Berries are a great, natural flavor booster, too! Ever simmer softer berries like raspberries into a sauce to spoon over roasted chicken or pork? One of my favorites is to add them to a basic vinaigrette to take salads, sides, and mains to the next level. Add ⅔ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup berries, and 1 TBSP fresh-squeezed orange juice to a blender, and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper too!
- Don’t forget the short shelf life. Prolong their flavor, by immediately discarding any moldy or overripe berries. Put the remaining berries, unwashed, into a container lined with paper towels to absorb moisture. Store them in the fridge, and wash briefly in cold water just before eating.
Enjoy this beautiful, bounty of berries as long as you can, and . . . Bon appetit!
Also, next month we will be rolling out our Nutrition Lecture series . . . Many more details to follow, so be on the lookout for more information! And get ready to learn more and begin to create your own personalized nutritional plan!
Matt Mrazik, RD
Weight Management & Performance Dietitian
Pittsburgh Fitness Project