5 reasons we should all be eating more berries…and not just in the morning

Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are taking over the produce department — and who’s not excited about that? They’re basically nature’s way of helping us lower cholesterol and fight disease in the most delicious way possible. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t leave the store without berries in your cart.

They help with digestion

Who knew? It turns out that berries are lower in fructose than fruits like apples and pears. This makes them easy to tolerate and less likely to cause gas and bloating.

You’ll feel forever young

Antioxidants protect your body by stabilizing harmful free radicals that cause disease and aging.

Just one cup of berries contains all the antioxidants needed for the day — they really are one of the most powerful disease-fighting foods available.

Bye-bye, bad cholesterol

Berries contain polyphenols (and so does dark chocolate) that can reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol. Their high fiber content also helps with this benefit. In fact, raspberries have more fiber than any other fruit, at 8 grams per cup.

Blood pressure-lowering effects

Struggling with high blood pressure? Fill up on berries. Blueberries and strawberries are rich in compounds called anthocyanins, which can help lower blood pressure.

Dessert without the extra calories

Ripe berries are naturally sweet and low in calories — a good way to curb a sweet tooth without hitting the ice cream too hard. If you’re in the habit of dessert every night, try cutting the amount in half and filling the bowl with fresh berries. Or, can we interest you in a Chocolate Berry Cube?

Chocolate Berry Cubes

Serves 6

For a healthier after-dinner treat, one of these two-ingredient candies should do the trick. For more recipes like this, visit Hy-Vee.com/recipes-ideas.

All you need:

• 1 cup 60% cacao chocolate chips

• 1 cup mixed berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or blackberries

All you do:

Wash berries thoroughly and dry with paper towels; set aside.

Microwave chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl, uncovered, on 50 percent power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave on 50 percent power for 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Fill ice cube trays 2/3-full with melted chocolate. Add mixed berries and press into the chocolate. Refrigerate for 1 hour before removing the chocolate cubes.

Nutrition facts per serving: 100 calories, 6g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 8g sugar, 1g protein

Claire Henning, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee