As the temperatures rise, your taste buds may start to crave some sweet and juicy treats that can actually boost your health! Instead of reaching for that ice cream pint, why not pick some fresh strawberries or tart blueberries to satisfy your sweet tooth? Bursting with antioxidants and nutrients, these juicy jewels are always under the research spotlight for their countless health benefits. Low in calories but super high in flavor and flavonoids, berries are the ultimate superfoods, so enjoy them all summer long! Sweet Superfoods: Berries have been scientifically linked to a bevy of disease-fighting properties. The pigment that provides them with their radiant color contains a trove of antioxidants and nutrients. The phytochemicals and flavonoids in berries may ward off cancer, improve vision, and decrease cognitive decline.
Flavonoïds are a class of antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases by protecting the body’s cells from damage and reducing inflammation. One flavonoid that is specific to berries is anthocyanins, which colors raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, elderberries, cherries, and concord grapes with their beautiful pigment. Anthocyanins also cross the blood-brain barrier, affecting the areas of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory. A recent study in the Annals of Neurologysuggests (1) that regular consumption of berries may improve brain function, memory, and possibly reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. Researchers found that consuming more than 1 to 2 servings a week of blueberries and strawberries delayed cognitive aging by 2.5 years. If your backyard doesn’t boast a garden of fresh berries, you can always visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store for nature’s nutrient powerhouses!
The fragrance and deep red color of strawberries are enough to make your mouth water! Not only can they brighten up your meal, they can combat free radicals, fight inflammation, and help regulate blood sugar. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids, which all contribute to making this bright berry a nutrition super star! Consuming one cup of strawberries several times a week may lower the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, a risk factor in heart disease. To add to its already high nutrient profile, just one cup provides you with over 140% of the daily value of vitamin C, and only about 50 calories. Enjoy them as a snack, sliced into salads, yogurt, or blended into your favorite smoothie.
Some evidence suggests that antioxidant-rich blueberries may alter how our bodies metabolize and store sugar for energy by reducing belly fat. This translates to a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as a step closer to a beach body! Other research suggests that blueberries may protect the retina in our eyes from oxidative damage. These tangy little blue gems can be enjoyed dried, frozen, or fresh.
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