‘Tis the season of glorious, deep coloured health gems in the form of our seasonal berries: blues, blacks, raspberries and strawberries! They add pizzazz to just about any meal and are packed full of fantastic health promoting benefits. And if that weren’t enough, they are incredibly low in calories ta-boot!
Berry Heart Healthy
When it comes to heart healthy nutrients, berries are a powerhouse! Exceptionally rich in dietary fiber, berries are wonderfully supportive to the cardiovascular system because fiber helps to lower cholesterol.
Furthermore, berries are high in ellagic acid, a nutrient which reduces the oxidation of unhealthy fats. This helps protect the cardiovascular system from damage.
Lastly, berries are a rich source of bioflavonoids – the chemicals that give berries their robust colour. Bioflavanoids help to strengthen vascular walls improving their elasticity thus helping to prevent injury.
Berries for Blood Sugar Balance
High in fiber and low on the glycemic index, berries are the perfect food for those seeking to prevent blood sugar problems. With type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome on the rise in North America, choosing foods that help balance blood sugar is a very wise move. Add a dab of coconut whip cream to a bowl of berries and you’ve got the perfect blood-sugar-safe, guilt-free summer treat!
Berries are skin-tastic medicine! They have an unusually high concentration of antioxidants, which are essential for healthy skin. Antioxidants are nutrients that protect the body from free radical damage. Free radicals create inflammation and contribute to numerous disease processes such as skin cancer.
Sun exposure is a major cause of free-radical damage to the skin. The potent antioxidant concentration in berries counters this free-radical damage. So for all the sun-worshippers out there, berries are literally a sunscreen you can eat!
Berry Buyer Beware!
There is one problem with berries: they are on the Dirty Dozen list (sounds like Santa’s naughty list, doesn’t it?!) The Dirty Dozen is a list of fruits and vegetables most highly sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. It is wise to buy this items organic. Generally organic berries are more costly, but with the abundance of summer Farmer’s Markets opening up around the city, finding organic berries at a good price is relatively easy. So go get yourself a basket of berries and enjoy the sweet health benefits they’ll bring you!