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Berries: healthy and delicious!

by Katelyn Schobert, Southwest Health Dietitian

We are celebrating Berry Fest virtually this year, offering kids the chance to complete our online Passport to Fun (www.southwesthealth.org/passport2020) and giving you some ideas on how to enjoy berries at home.

Common types of berries include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cranberries. These can be eaten fresh, frozen, and even dried. Most berries are in-season during the summer months, while cranberries are in-season in October and November. Fresh fruit is usually more affordable when bought in-season, and frozen fruit is a good alternative when fruits are out of season.

Store berries in the refrigerator, and wash them before eating. If you wash your berries before storing them, they are more likely to become mushy. Try them for any meal during the day: on top of oatmeal for breakfast, blended in a smoothie for a snack, in a salad for lunch, or as a sweet treat after dinner.

Berries have many health benefits. A few include:

 Weight Management

Adding berries as part of a well-balanced diet is a great way to get necessary nutrients with low calories. Replacing high calorie snack foods like chips, cookies, or pretzels with berries can provide you with less calories and more beneficial nutrients. Berries can also help you feel fuller when you eat due to their fiber content.

 Antioxidants

Berries are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to repair cell damage that can lead to diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. The general rule of thumb is the darker the color of the food, the more antioxidants it has. For example, blueberries and blackberries are especially high in antioxidants, and they are dark in color.

 Fiber

Foods high in fiber help to control your appetite (not eat too much), lower your cholesterol, and have a healthy gastrointestinal tract. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends women consume 28 grams of fiber per day and men consume 33 grams of fiber per day. The fiber content of the berries below shows they are a great choice to increase your daily fiber intake:

  • Raspberries – 1 cup = 8 grams fiber
  • Blackberries— 1 cup = 8 grams fiber
  • Cranberries – 1 cup fresh = 5.3 grams fiber
  • Blueberries –1 cup = 3.5 grams fiber
  • Strawberries – 1 cup sliced = 3.3 grams fiber

Not only are berries healthy, they are delicious and can be eaten in many different ways. Try these summer-friendly recipes to include more berries into your meals!

 Customizable Smoothie Recipe:  2 servings

Blend the following ingredients and enjoy!

  • 2 cups of berries (can be a variety or just one of the options depending on preferences)
  • 2 cups milk (1%, skim, or non-dairy alternative such as almond milk)
  • 1 cup yogurt (Greek or non-fat)
  • Add ice if using fresh fruit, not necessary if it is frozen
  • Additional add-ins: nut butter, flaxseed, protein powder, oats, or spinach

 Homemade popsicles: If you do not have a popsicle mold at home you can use a muffin tin, ice cube tray, or small paper cups with wooden popsicle sticks. Blend up the following recipe, place in your popsicle mold, freeze for 4-6 hours, then enjoy:

 Berries and Cream

Mix the following ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup fresh berries
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons honey

 

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