December 3, 2016

Berries Are Good, But Watch Carbs – P1

I love most berries, but with type 2 diabetes, I know that I must limit the frequency and quantity that I can eat. I feel that this article by Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE should be given more coverage.

She says, “"Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat. They are delicious, nutritious and provide a number of impressive health benefits. Here are 11 good reasons to include berries in your diet.”

#1. Berries Are Loaded With Antioxidants: Berries contain antioxidants, which help keep free radicals under control. Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur as a normal byproduct of metabolism. It’s important to have a small amount of free radicals in your body to help defend against bacteria and viruses. However, free radicals can also damage your cells when present in excessive amounts. Antioxidants can help neutralize these compounds.

Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol. In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce the risk of disease. One study showed that blueberries, blackberries and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits, next to pomegranates.

Important point - berries are high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which may protect cells from free radical damage.

#2. Berries May Help Improve Blood Sugar and Insulin Response: Berries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels. Test-tube and human studies suggest they may protect cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carb meals.

Importantly, these effects appear to occur in both healthy people and those with insulin resistance. In one study of healthy women, consuming 5 ounces (150 grams) of puréed strawberries or mixed berries with bread led to a 24–26% reduction in insulin levels, compared to consuming the bread alone. Moreover, in a six-week study, obese, insulin-resistant people who consumed a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than the group who consumed smoothies without berries.

Important point - berries may improve blood sugar and insulin response when consumed with high-carb foods or when included in smoothies.

#3. Berries Are High in Fiber: Berries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Studies have shown that consuming soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness. This may decrease your calorie intake and make weight management easier.

What’s more, fiber helps reduce the number of calories you absorb from mixed meals. One study found that doubling your fiber intake could help your body absorb up to 130 fewer calories per day. In addition, the high fiber content of berries means that they're digestible or net carb content low. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbs.

These are the carb and fiber counts per one-cup serving of berries:
Raspberries: 15 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber.
Blackberries: 15 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber.
Strawberries: 12 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
Blueberries: 21 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber.

Because of their low net carb content, berries are a low carb friendly food.

Important point - berries contain fiber, which may help decrease appetite, increase feelings of fullness and reduce the number of calories your body absorbs from mixed meals.

#4. Berries Provide Many Nutrients: Berries are low in calories and extremely nutritious. In addition to being high in antioxidants, they also contain several vitamins and minerals. Berries, especially strawberries, are high in vitamin C. In fact, one cup of strawberries provides a whopping 150% of the RDI for vitamin C.

With the exception of vitamin C, all berries are fairly similar in terms of their vitamin and mineral contents. Below is the nutrition content of a one-cup (144-gram) serving of blackberries:
Calories: 62.
Vitamin C: 50% of the RDI.
Manganese: 47% of the RDI.
Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI.
Copper: 12% of the RDI.
Folate: 9% of the RDI.

The calorie count for one cup of berries ranges from 49 for strawberries to 84 for blueberries, making berries some of the lowest-calorie fruits around.

Important point - berries are rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and manganese, yet low in calories.

#5. The Antioxidants in Them Help Fight Inflammation: Berries have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is your body’s way of mounting a defense against infection or injury. However, modern lifestyles often lead to excessive, sustained inflammation due to increased stress, inadequate physical activity and unhealthy food choices. This type of chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the development of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among other diseases.

Important point - berries may help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

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