Posted on 08/15/2016 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Dr. Lisa Metzgar, PhD:
Summer is one of my favorite seasons. Not just for the fun in the sun but also for the summertime fruits that bring back memories of picnics on the beach and running through sprinklers on a hot day. Some of my favorite fruits are berries, which have been shown to have many health benefits.
We all know that berries have lots of health boosting antioxidants that can help your immune system. That in itself is a great reason to eat the juicy, sweet fruit. There are even more benefits to eating a variety of berries. Hippocrates stated over 2000 years ago that “All disease starts in the gut”. Today there is ongoing research that shows this to be truer than we ever thought. With billions of bacteria residing in our guts, it has been shown that having the right balance of gut bacteria improves our immune system, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and keeps inflammation down. There are certain foods that help keep our guts balanced for optimal health and berries are one of those “superfoods”.
Research in Finland has found a compound in raspberries and other commercially grown berries that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut yet has no effect on beneficial bacteria.(1) Keeping the bad bacteria like Salmonella under control is just as important as feeding our good bacteria in keeping us well.
Another study has shown lowbush wild blueberries have the potential to modify our gut microbiota.(2) They are excellent sources of fiber, manganese, and polyphenols, such as anthocyanins which has been shown to help maintain healthy gut flora. This makes blueberries a “functional” food. Blueberries are also known as a low FODMAP food (a FODMAP is a short chain fermentable carbohydrate that can cause inflammation in the gut in certain individuals). A low FODMAP food such as blueberries can help keep inflammation down in people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.(3)
An unhealthy gut balance can also lead to obesity and low grade inflammation in the body. Research has shown that the lingonberry can prevent diet-induced obesity and inflammation.(4) Two groups of rats were fed a high fat diet with one of the groups including the lingonberry. Markers were tested for obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and gut mucosa. The group fed the berries had reduced markers which indicated better health as well as a healthier gut mucosa.
So you can see why berries are such a great superfood to add to your summer diet. Not only do they improve gut health, they are especially tasty.
Here are a few ideas to add more berries into your summertime diet that I've tried myself from myrecipes.com.
Greek Yogurt with warm Berry Sauce
- 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
- 2/3 cup frozen blackberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar (can substitute with coconut sugar or xylitol for a low glycemic alternative)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; gently boil 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in butter.
2. Spoon 1/2 cup yogurt into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1/4 cup sauce.
Blueberry Chipotle Chutney
- 4 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons grated orange rind
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (about 2 chilies)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Cool; pour into airtight containers.
Note: Refrigerate Blueberry-Chipotle Chutney in airtight containers up to two months.
Chicken Fruit Salad
- 1 (10-ounce) package Italian-blend salad greens (about 6 cups)
- 2 cups grilled chicken breast strips (such as Louis Rich; about 6 ounces)
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup quartered strawberries
- 1 cup sliced banana
- 1 cup sliced peeled kiwifruit (about 3 kiwifruit)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons herbed goat cheese
- Raspberry Dressing (recipe below)
Arrange 1 1/2 cups salad greens on each of 4 plates. Divide the remaining ingredients except Raspberry Dressing equally among 4 plates. Drizzle each serving with 3 tablespoons Raspberry Dressing.
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup raspberry or red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all the ingredients; stir with a whisk.