By Bridgette Leeson, Guest Contributor
Proper digestion and absorption of nutrients are key for optimal health, so of course we put emphasis on the belly. We even say that we’ve got a gut feeling about something when we’re acting on instinct – that’s got to say something about the critical importance of our mid-section! Enjoying nutrient-dense, whole, plant-based foods and natural health products is a healthy way to support digestive system function and keep our instinctual bellies healthy and happy.
Berries stand out from the crowd when looking for foods to benefit digestion because they are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber—all key for healthy digestive system function. Here are our top three reasons to go with your gut and eat more berries.
1. Vitamins and Minerals
One of the best sources of vitamin A is blueberries and goji berries. Vitamin A helps in the maintenance of eyesight, skin membranes, immune function, bones and teeth. (1) Add goji berries to your salad or smoothies to get a vitamin A boost or try blending blueberries in a smoothie.
Berries are rich in antioxidants—vitamin C, E as well as phytonutrients. Antioxidant Vitamin C can also help with the absorption of important nutrients including protein and plant-based iron. (2) You can up your vitamin C intake in the morning with strawberries, which contain nearly 100mg vitamin C per cup! (3)
Fiber plays a role in efficient and effective digestion by helping to move food along the digestive track and keep you regular. If you’re looking to reach your 25 grams of fiber a day for women; 38g for men (4) just add more berries! Take a look at raspberries, for example: they pack 8 grams of fiber per cup. (5)
Picking the Best Berries
I buy seasonal berries, such as blueberries and blackberries, in bulk at my local farmer’s market and store what I don’t have the opportunity to enjoy in the freezer so that I have fruit all winter long. If berries aren’t in season for you, buying frozen, organic berries is a great option for smoothies, desserts and adding to overnight oats.
How do you go with your gut with berries? Let me know in the comments below!
1. Health Canada (2010). “Natural Health Product Monographs: Vitamin A.” Retrieved August 13, 2014
2. National Institute of Health (2013). “Vitamin C: Health Professional Fact Sheet.” Retrieved July 20, 2014
3. United States Department of Agriculture. US Department of Agriculture. “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Strawberries.” Retrieved July 20, 2014
4. Health Canada (2010). “Dietary Reference Intakes Tables.” Retrieved July 18, 2014
5. United States Department of Agriculture. “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Raspberries.” Retrieved July 20, 2014