Monday, June 9, 2008

Slimming Strawberries

June is strawberry season throughout the northern United States. Fresh, juicy and sweet berries can be readily found in markets and farm stands. They make excellent snacks and desserts. Strawberries are rich sources of phenolic antioxidants that can help:

1. reverse inflammation
2. aid in weight loss
3. reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Strawberry extracts may have direct anti-inflammatory effects, helping to inhibit the activation of genes and enzymes that promote inflammation. Most of this benefit is due to another group of phenolic antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give ripe strawberries their lush red color. Anthocyanins may decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke by protecting blood vessels from the effects of wear and tear.

The ellagic acid and anthocyanins found in strawberries may aid weight loss in at least three ways:

1. As explained in detail in The Fat Resistance Diet, chronic inflammation blocks the hormones involved in keeping you lean. Fat Resistance foods like strawberries help restore normal function to weight-reducing hormones.

2. Anthocyanins can actually increase the body's production of a hormone called adiponectin, which stimulates your metabolism and suppresses your appetite.

3. Both ellagic acid and anthocyanins can slow the rate of digestion of starchy foods, controlling the rise in blood sugar that follows a starchy meal. This effect can help control blood sugar in people with adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes.

You can eat fresh or frozen strawberries as a snack or dessert anytime. Add plain, fat-free yogurt for a creamy topping and chopped walnuts or ground flax seed for crunchiness, if that appeals to you. Or make a batch of our Omega Blast Granola and layer it over the yogurt topping. Some strawberry recipes in The Fat Resistance Diet include Frosty Yogurt (page 221), Strawberry Mango Granita (p 222), and Banana Strawberry Smoothie (p 242).

We recommend organically grown strawberries, if you can find them. Organic strawberries have been shown to have higher levels of vitamin C and greater anti-cancer effects than conventionally grown strawberries, probably due to a higher content of phenolic anti-oxidants.

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