How to Boost Your Health by Adding Berries to Your Diet
Berries are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients and can be a great addition to a healthy diet. They also contain naturally occurring phytochemicals thought to provide antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory benefits.You can add berries to regular meals by putting in yogurt, oatmeal, and salad, incorporate them in homemade spreads and salsas, or make healthy berry desserts.
Adding Berries to Your Meals
Start your day by adding berries to breakfast foods.Berries can easily be used to enhance breakfast foods. Sprinkle some blueberries, raspberries, or sliced strawberries in your morning cereal. You can also have yogurt with berries or add berries to your oatmeal.
- Make sure your other breakfast foods are healthy as well. Go for plain yogurt, healthy whole grain cereals, and minimize use of added sugars in your oatmeal. Berries can add a lot of sweetness on their own, cutting back on your need for sugary additives like brown sugar, table sugar, and honey.
Add berries to salads.While salads are normally thought of as a more savory dish, you can throw in some berries to add sweetness. If you have a salad for lunch, or a side salad with your meal, add some blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries to the mix.
- If you add sources of protein such as nuts and beans to your salad, it may be filling enough to be a meal on its own.
Have berries as a side dish for every meal.Make a habit of adding a small handful of berries as a side for every meal. Berries do not have many calories but contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to your health. Try eating berries on the side for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Snack on berries throughout the day.Berries can help fill you up when you start to feel hungry. Between meals, go for a bag of strawberries instead of potato chips. This will help you stay full and curb your cravings for unhealthy snacks.
- Make a habit of keeping berries on hand. If you carry a Ziploc bag of berries with you during work, for example, you can satisfy yourself with this instead of heading to the vending machine.
Enhancing Foods and Drinks with Berries
Freeze berries inside ice cubes.Cut berries into tiny chunks and place them in your ice tray. Fill the ice tray with water and freeze the berries. You can then add the ice cubes to water and other drinks.
Make salsa with berries.Mix a handful of blueberries with some diced red peppers, jalapeños, onions, and cilantro. Then, spritz some lime juice over the berries. This creates a savory salsa. When mixed with spices like cilantro and more savory fruits and veggies, berries lose some of their sweetness and compliment the salsa well.
- You can use your salsa as a topping for meat dishes, like chicken, or use it in burritos.
Blend your berries for a homemade fruit spread.If you have a blender or food processor, toss some berries into it. Blend the berries together until they form a spreadable mixture. You can use this on things like toast and bagels in the morning. This is far healthier than store bought fruit spreads, which may be high in fat and sugar.
- For optimal health, opt for whole wheat breads.
Mix berries into whole grains.You can mix blueberries into things like brown rice, couscous, and quinoa. This can add a little sweetness to savory whole grains. You can use this as a side dish or add extra vegetables and protein to make it into a full meal.
Making Healthy Desserts with Berries
Make a smoothie for dessert.You can mix berries with things like plain yogurt, bananas, cocoa powder, or peanut butter for a healthy smoothie after dinner. Toss in a few ice cubes and cold water to help the smoothie blend efficiently.
- As berries are sweet on their own, you don't need to add a lot of sweeteners like sugar or honey.
- If you add things like yogurt for texture, be sure to avoid yogurt that's high in added sugar.
Have a parfait.Mix healthy ingredients together, such as cream cheese and low fat milk, to form an ice-cream like substance. You can add vanilla for extra flavor. For crunch, add a very small amount of a low-sugar cookie, like a shortbread cookie, or something like granola. You can then sprinkle berries on top for a healthy dessert.
Avoid very sugary desserts.Some foods technically contain berries, but are not great for your overall health. Stay away from things like blueberry or strawberry pies, as these have a lot of sugar and fat. You should also avoid things like cookies and muffins that have a small amount of berries as add ins.
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