Nothing says, “Summer is here!” like a wide variety of fresh fruit pouring into the grocery stores. Many would argue the increased availability and variety of fresh berries are the food pinnacle of the season (and who can argue with the accompanying price reduction). Berries of all kinds—raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries—boast multiple health benefits and can be added to just about any entrée or side dish for a punch of both taste and beauty.
Berries have many characteristics that are beneficial to our health. To start, berries supply multiple different antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals and protect cellular health. Research has long shown the benefits of these compounds in everything from improving inflammation and vascular health, to reducing risk of cancer and improving skin health. Berries, specifically raspberries, are high in fiber, which assists with promoting regularity, colon health, and stabilizing blood glucose levels.
There are numerous ways to incorporate berries into your summer diet. Add fresh blueberries on top of yogurt or mix them into oatmeal. Sliced strawberries, clocking in at only 50kcals per 1 cup (about 8 whole strawberries), go great on a spinach salad with feta, chicken, and balsamic vinegar, or on their own as a wonderful low-calorie snack. Blackberries pair nicely with cottage or ricotta cheese, which would make a lovely appetizer for a summer dinner party, and raspberries are wonderful for dessert, since the flavor pairs beautifully with chocolate, ginger, and lemon. (See recipe below for a light and healthy summer dessert with mixed berries and lemon). I also strongly recommend buying fresh berries when they are on sale and freezing them so in the winter you can use them in smoothies or oatmeal. Purchasing berries out of season can be very expensive and the quality of the berry is compromised since they must be shipped in from other countries.
Whether you are a long-time berry fanatic or a first-time berry taster, finding ways to fit these little magical fruits into every summer day is not only beneficial to your taste buds but to almost every system in your body as well. Swing buy your local farmers market or go berry picking with your family to enjoy the fresh summer air and the best summer fruit!
Summer Berry Medley with Limoncello & Mint
Servings: 6 (1 cup servings)
- 1 cup of fresh raspberries
- 2 cups of fresh blackberries
- 2 cups of hulled fresh strawberries quartered
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1 Tbs. grated lemon rind
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. limoncello
- ½ cup of torn mint leaves
- Combine first eight ingredients and let stand in a bowl for 20 minutes.
- Gently stir in mint with a rubber spatula.
- 1 Cup Serving: 136kcals, 0.8g Fat, 31g of Carbohydrates, 7.4g of Fiber, 0g Protein, 38mg of Calcium