Foods that are super for weight loss and nutrition are foods that pack plenty of nutritional bang for just a few bucks (not to mention calories).
Berries top the list. Other good choices are cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower), dark green leafy veggies (kale, collards), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans), and fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines).
Berries come in a rainbow of colors. The red in strawberries and raspberries give you a clue to their remarkable potency. Just a cup of strawberries provides more than 100mg of vitamin C, as much as a cup of orange juice, but with a lot more fiber. Raspberry research links this naturally sweet fruit to lower rates of cancer. Raspberries are rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanins, flavanols, vitamin C and manganese. Like most berries, a cup contains about 60 calories and provides about 33% of your daily fiber.
The deep blue and purple pigments in blueberries mean that they’re rich in anthocyanins and other antioxidant compounds. Blueberries are native to North America and are reasonably priced, which is an important consideration when choosing nutritious foods while on a budget. Both cultivated and wild blueberries have at least five different anthocyanins – substances which act to neutralize the free-radical damage that's linked to development of disease. Wild blueberries are half the size, so they contain twice the skin of the bigger cultivated blueberry. The thicker skin naturally doubles the health-positive nutrients.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal online touted the benefits of berries. It included information on some of the exotic varieties that have become popular with health-seekers: black raspberries, goji berries, and aronia berries.
Aronia berries, also known as chokeberries, are native to the eastern U.S. They’ve become popular lately because, like wild blueberries, they’re very darkly colored, dark purple, nearly black, which indicates rich antioxidant anthocyanins. But, like goji and cranberries, another nutritional powerhouse, they’re very tart.
You could go right into the field and pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or huckleberries, and they’re naturally sweet and delicious. You wouldn’t chew down on a red, ripe cranberry; it’s too tart for most people’s taste. That’s why most people eat cranberries mixed with something sweet. The Times article quoted a mom saying that she’s giving her kids aronia gummy chews instead of the other gummy chew snacks, as if by using the berry in the candy it makes it a better snack choice.
I think not. Instead of a sugary snack, a blueberry smoothie fits the bill for taste and nutrition, too. Try the Sip n Slim Purple Smoothie powder for a quick smoothie treat with only 72 calories (when made with water).
My best berry pick: the wild blueberry.
The chokeberry (aronia berry) may be richer in some antioxidants, but they’re so tart that they need to be sweetened and that defeats the purpose. Sweeten smoothies and cereals, hot and cold, with fresh, frozen or even dried berries (check the label and buy non-sugared).
Click on the Wild Blueberry Nutrition for a bushel of information about buying, storing and eating wild blueberries.
Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who as chief nutritionist for eDiets promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.