Berries are loaded with fiber, which helps you feel full (and eat less). Berries top the charts in antioxidant power, protecting your body against inflammation and free radicals, molecules that can damage cells and organs. One study even showed that one-half to one cup of mixed berries a day improved cognition and motor performance in animals. James Joseph, PhD, director of the Neuroscience Lab at the United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, which conducted the study, notes that we become more susceptible to the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation as we age. Berries help prevent those effects by turning off the inflammation signals triggered by cytokines and COX-2s, he says, making them an ideal part of your diet.
To get the optimal health benefits of berries, eat two to three types of fresh, frozen or dehydrated berries each day. Incorporate the benefits of berries into your daily diet with the following suggestions.
Strawberries contain more vitamin C in a one-cup serving than one orange and are particularly high in folic acid.
How to serve: Top with Cool Whip Lite for a low-calorie dessert or dip in melted, low-fat brie cheese.
Blueberries contain 20 types of anthocyanin – antioxidants that give berries their blue-violet and red colors. Other berries contain only three or four types.
How to serve: Toss a handful on cereals and yogurt, blend into smoothies or put on a bagel with cream cheese.
Blackberries, Raspberries and Boysenberries each contains 8 grams (g) of fiber in one cup – one-third the daily recommended amount (25 g).
How to serve: Blend them with 100-percent fruit juice and heat to make a sauce for lean meats, such as fish and chicken.
Cranberries not only combat urinary tract infections by preventing Escherichia coli bacteria from sticking to cells in the urinary tract, but they also are a natural probiotic, supporting healthy bacteria that grow in the gastrointestinal tract and aiding in digestion.
How to serve: Add a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries to bread recipes. Toss dried cranberries in salads or trail mixes.