Benefits of Berries

Who knew I could write a whole blog on berries alone? Growing up in rural Delaware, we had fresh raspberries in our garden, giant blueberry bushes at my grandparents’ farm, and every year my mom would take me strawberry picking at our local orchard. Berries are not only scrumptious for snacking and decadent in desserts, but they’re great for you as well. Today I am all about the berries, so read on for some Lizzie-selected facts and recipes!

When I think of berries, the first examples that come to mind are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries…but according to the Gardening Channel, there are actually over 44 types of edible berries! Bearberries are found only in the Arctic areas of the world and have been used for medicinal purposes, while nannyberries are grown in marshes and are often used in syrups or jellies. They all possess different properties, but for the sake of the following facts, we’re referring to the berries that are commonly found in grocery stores.

Berries contain less carbohydrates compared to other fruit; raspberries only contain 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per every 1/4 cup serving. I’ve personally been more aware of my carbohydrate consumption recently, as I’ve learned that the high carb meals I had been eating were causing insulin spikes, leaving me exhausted and suffering from breakouts. Berries are a good option for anyone who needs to balance their carbohydrate intake, like a diabetic, while still getting the amazing vitamins, flavonoids and phytochemicals found in fruit. Berries are high in manganese, copper, folate, and vitamin C (a major antioxidant). They’re super tasty and eating them raw or minimally processed is a great way to up your antioxidant intake. Antioxidants keep free radicals, which are the unstable molecules that cause oxidative stress in the body, under control. These antioxidants, like ellagic acid or resveratrol, help protect our cells and, in turn, potentially decrease disease risk.

If eating a handful of raw berries doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are so many recipes that you can try in order to incorporate them into your diet! You can sprinkle them over desserts (read strawberry cheesecake) or pop them in a smoothie. Here’s my favorite berry smoothie recipe to make when I’m on the go, and I need an extra boost:

 

1 cup of any milk (I prefer almond or coconut milk)

1 cup of frozen blueberries

1 cup of frozen strawberries

1/2 of a frozen banana (you can substitute cauliflower to make it lower carb)

1 tsp of stevia or sweetener of your choice

Bonus: 1 scoop of protein powder (both chocolate and vanilla flavors go great)

 

Now you have the facts and the recipes, but how do you go about choosing the right pack of berries in the store? For strawberries, look under the green leaves to make sure the red extends up to the top of the berry. If it’s white under the leaves, they’re still underripe. Blueberries and blackberries become sweeter the darker they are, and raspberries should be full without mold or paleness. When in doubt, I smell a container of berries before putting it in my cart. You might laugh, but if it smells sweet like candy without a sour, acrid smell, that’s usually when they are the most delicious. Give it a try! What are some of your favorite berries or recipes? Comment below, and have a BERRY good day!

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