Berries: The Cure for the Common Sweet Tooth (Recipe)
Talk about Nature’s Candy: with their rainbow of candy-coloured, jewel-toned hues, berries are the perfect pop-in-your-mouth sized fruit snack. Virtually ready to eat as soon as you pluck them off the shelf (make sure to give them a wash first), their convenient size and delicately sweet flavour is only surpassed by the powerhouse nutritional benefits they pack.
What the heck are antioxidants, anyway? We know they’re healthy elements found inside lots of fruit and veggie “superfoods,” but most of us don’t know what that even means.
Very simply put, oxidation occurs when our bodies ere exposed to toxic load – everything from airborne chemicals to food chemicals to excessive lifestyle stress. Free radicals are the toxins in question. These damaging molecules float around our blood stream in search of healthy molecules to attach themselves to. The result is oxidation: cellular damage.
Antioxidant molecules sacrifice themselves to protect your cells. They attach themselves to free radicals so that the free radicals can’t attach to, and damage, your healthy cells.
Commonly-known antioxidants include things you’ve heard of, like flavonols, beta-carotene, and resveratrol. These are phytochemicals, a lesser-appreciated end product of digestion, and one of the big reasons you’re always being told to eat more veggies (fruits and veggies are famously high in phytochemicals).
Fibre: Balance your Blood Sugar and Keep Cravings at Bay
This is the berry’s unsung benefit. With their small, edible, built-in seeds, berries are one of the highest-fibre fruits you can munch on. Fibre has many great benefits, most notably for intestinal health, but here is how the fibre in berries can help you curb your sweet tooth when the urge to snack becomes too much to bear:
While fruit tends to be somewhat of a higher-sugar snack, high fibre fruit sings a different tune. The fibre slows down the sugar load of the fruit; it creates a lower glycemic index. This means berries will not spike your blood sugar like other sugary treats – be it candy, a sugary drink, or a sweeter, lower-fibre fruit. And without a blood sugar spike, you won’t have a blood sugar crash.
These spikes and crashes in blood sugar are at the root of our swings in energy, mood, and appetite. A high fibre snack like berries helps to balance blood sugar, and will help keep you awake and away from the vending machine at 3pm when the rest of your coworkers are suffering the mid-afternoon crash.
Berries don’t need dressing up. A bowlful of berries is a tasty, refreshing snack all on its own. Resist the urge to sprinkle sugar on your bowl of berries, though.
Alongside some dark chocolate.
Berries and dark chocolate (75% or darker) are a quick and easy snack that go together like milk and cookies – but are obviously much healthier! Dark chocolate doesn’t trigger the sweet cravings centres of the brain like a sweet milk chocolate does, and it is packed full of – you guessed it – antioxidants.
Swap in some high fibre berries to “slow down” the blood sugar spike (and impending crash) typically associated with super-sweet fruit smoothies. The addition of a protein powder supplement helps make a smoothie even more nutritionally complete. Frozen berries are a great option here, too; they’ll lend a thick slushiness to your shake.
Stirred into Greek Yogurt
Assuming you’re tolerant to dairy products, stirring your berries into a bowl of Greek yogurt is a decadent-tasting, healthy snack that satisfies hunger. Reach for a natural, unsweetened, full-fat yogurt for maximum nutrition (yes, I said “full fat.” The low-fat fad is so out of style…).
Recipe: All-Natural Healthy Berry Ice Cream
Easy to make, this recipe is dairy-free, vegan, paleo, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
That’s basically all the health buzzwords in one recipe – impressive!
(Click below to download a printable version of the recipe.)