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Pick a Power Food This Weekend! From Jillian Michaels' newsletter

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Pick a Power Food This Weekend! From Jillian Michaels newsletter

Not only are berries beautiful to look at, but their colors signify health-protecting qualities. They are rich in polyphenols, the same antioxidants that give wine and chocolate their healthy qualities. Of course, unlike chocolate and wine, berries are low in calories, and they contain no alcohol or caffeine. So you can enjoy them free of guilt and know you're doing something good for your body!

Berries are colorful because they contain anthocyanins — these are a type of polyphenol that might nudge our fat-burning genes in the right direction. A Japanese researcher found that anthocyanins stop individual fat cells from getting larger and encourage fat cells to release adiponectin, a hormone that helps to reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, and reverse resistance to leptin and insulin. Another study found that anthocyanins can reduce blood glucose levels after starch-rich meals, preventing insulin spikes that could eventually lead to insulin resistance. Black raspberries have an extremely high concentration of anthocyanins and other antioxidants and can often be found growing wild, so look out for them!

Certain polyphenols found in raspberries and strawberries block the digestive enzyme activity of specific starches and fats, reducing your body's ability to absorb them. Combine this trait with the soluble fiber in berries, and you have a sweet treat that works hard to help you lose weight and keep your blood sugar low.

Berries are starting to come into season now (the season varies depending on the type of berry and where you live), so my advice is to head to your local farmers' market and buy an entire flat. Take the berries home and gently wash them and let them dry. Place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag. This way you can keep your berries, with their nutrients intact, for up to two years — and you can enjoy them year-round!


What to Look for in a Berry

Unfortunately, conventionally grown berries are some of the most pesticide-laden fruits available, so you should always choose organic, if possible. Fresh or frozen is best because berries lose almost all their anthocyanins when they are processed. Look for packages with no visible juice stains, which suggest the berries are past their prime. Fresh berries are at their best within 48 hours after purchase — another reason to freeze your berries to make them last!
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