Get Your Berry On!

Have you noticed that berries are at rock-bottom prices right now? And organic berries, free of synthetic pesticides or genetic engineering, are at their flavorful peak and totally affordable. Berries can boost brain function, blood sugar metabolism, and tune-up your heart. This summer, indulge in the many benefits of berries for your health, your taste buds, and your pocketbook.

Here are some of the reasons to enjoy fresh, sweet, organic berries this summer:

 

Lowest Prices at Season’s Peak, PLUS Sweetest Flavor

Pardon me for making it all about price. But c’mon, berries are a steal right now. They taste the best and hold up better in the fridge right now, than any other time of year. Make the most of Nature’s harvest and get your berry on while the time is right. See below for why you should buy low-priced organic berries instead of conventional ones when you go to the store.

 

Low Carb

You can still fit in your favorite pair of jeans if you indulge in berries once in a while. Even people on a Paleo or Keto diet can eat raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries in moderation. Low in calories, berries are sweet but they don’t spike blood sugar levels because they are higher in fiber. In fact, they might even improve blood sugar metabolism and insulin regulation! People who ate more blueberries had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.2

Want more information on carbohydrates and blood sugar? See my free handout on smart carbs.

People who eat high amounts of strawberries and blueberries have sharper memory and brain function.1

 

Packed with Antioxidants That Fight Aging and Disease

Antioxidants protect us from the everyday wear and tear that comes with daily living, also known as “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress contributes to aging, wrinkles, gray hair, memory loss, depression, cancer, diabetes, and more. Oxidative stress means that harmful chemicals are damaging your DNA and your cells. Stay young, healthy, and energetic with a diet rich in antioxidants!

High in Fiber

Can you believe that something as sweet as berries are high in fiber? Because berries have more fiber, they don’t overwhelm your blood sugar handling system. The fiber in berries can help slow down the movement of food through the GI tract. It can help fill you up so you’re more satisfied.

Berry Nutritious

Berries contain vitamins C and E, folic acid, calcium, selenium, potassium, alpha and beta carotene, and lutein.3 Blueberries are high in vitamin K, a vitamin that helps blood flow smoothly and helps arteries stay flexible. This means that berries are a natural, whole-food way to boost your immune system, tune-up cellular function, improve energy, build strong bones, and fight oxidative stress.

Strawberries are Vitamin C superstars. One cup of strawberries provides 99% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin C.

 

Heart-healthy Flavonoids

Flavonoids are the plant chemicals that give fruits their brilliant colors. Flavonoids nourish and protect the body. They also feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. They act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and they can be used as medicine. Eating high amounts of berries (or berry flavonoids) significantly lowers your risk of heart disease.3 And that’s not all berries do for heart health. They can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good cholesterol”).4

Medicinal Value

Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries have documented medical benefits. Each one is packed with plant chemicals that have health-promoting activity. Check out this berry blog that mentions general medical benefits of berries. Dr. Jim Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical database gets into the nitty gritty of the bioactivity of these nutritional powerhouses.

Low Prices on Summertime Organic Berries

Berries top the charts for pesticides. Their delicate skins make it easy for chemicals to penetrate the fruit and ultimately end up in your belly. Strawberries are the #1 most heavily pesticide-laden fruit on the Dirty Dozen list (2020), which reports the best and worst pesticide-contaminated foods according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). More than 90% of strawberries were found positive for at least two different pesticides. Blueberries also have high pesticide residues, according to a study by Harvard’s Department of Nutrition and they were #17 on the EWG list.5 Raspberries were #22 for highest pesticide residues. And these rankings are based on USDA tests, after the foods were washed. Needless to say, wash your fruits and veggies whether they are conventional or organic!

Normally, the prices for organic berries are too high for regular purchase at the grocery store. But wait, it’s summer! You can go hog-wild buying organic berries at the grocery store right now. Prices are rock bottom. Fruit is fresh and at its flavorful peak.

And if organic just isn’t an option for your household budget, it is still much, much better to eat fresh fruits and vegetables than to eat processed, packaged food. A diet lacking in fruits and veggies is much more harmful to your health than pesticides. If you just can’t do organic berries, go ahead and enjoy conventional ones. Clean them well before eating using a vinegar-water mixture or a veggie spray.

Stock Your Freezer

Make the most of the summer harvest by prepping your fruit and stocking your freezer for later in the year. Don’t buy just enough to eat for this week. Buy extra berries and wash and freeze them for use in smoothies later during the year. I’ve been disappointed that frozen organic strawberries from Whole Foods aren’t that sweet or delicious. Sometimes they are even sour.  Maybe it’s because they don’t harvest and freeze them during the right time of year. Buying berries now is the most cost-effective and yummy way to get chemical-free fruit smoothies for you and your family throughout the year.

Try Out This Summer Fruit Smoothie from Diabetes Food Hub.

The only added sugar is from the flavored yogurt in the recipe.

Fresh blueberries                                                                 1 cup

Fresh strawberries                                                               1 cup

Peaches (peeled, seeded and chopped)                                   2

Peach flavored Greek style yogurt                                        6 oz

Almond milk (unsweetened)                                                1 cup

Ground flax seed                                                                2 tbsp

Ice                                                                                     1/2 cup

Use plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt to cut the sugar out of this recipe. Add a ½ cup of frozen organic spinach and a ½ avocado for some extra nutrients. You can also add a scoop of your favorite protein powder.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Enjoy!

 

References

  1. Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of neurology. 2012;72(1):135-143.
  2. Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, et al. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ (Clinical research ed. 2013;347:f5001.
  3. Basu A, Rhone M, Lyons TJ. Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(3):168-177.
  4. Luís Â, Domingues F, Pereira L. Association between berries intake and cardiovascular diseases risk factors: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food & function. 2018;9(2):740-757.
  5. Chiu YH, Williams PL, Gillman MW, et al. Association Between Pesticide Residue Intake From Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes Among Women Undergoing Infertility Treatment With Assisted Reproductive Technology. JAMA internal medicine. 2018;178(1):17-26.