Berries in July, fresh off the vine, just seem to taste better. Besides being the right colors (red strawberries and raspberries, blue blueberries), they are refreshing.

If a handful of berries isn’t part of your daily diet, this month is a good time to start eating more.

Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all great options that are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which can help reduce the risk of cancers and other diseases. The key is eating a variety of berries (mixing them up) to reap the benefits of the different vitamins and minerals each berry has to offer.

Berries are also ideal for weight loss because they’re naturally sweet and delicious without lots of calories or fat.

Here’s a breakdown of their benefits:

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and protective plant compounds like anthocyanins and can help fight inflammation. They may improve brain, eye and heart health, and they help to reduce the risk of cancer. A cup has 84 calories, 3.6 grams of fiber and 50 percent of the vitamin C recommended for a day. Store them in the refrigerator, and wash them just before eating to prevent mold.

Blackberries are an even better source of fiber. A cup has 62 calories, 8 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Choose blackberries that are shiny, and store them in the refrigerator prior to washing.

One cup of raspberries contains 65 calories and 8 grams of fiber. They are particularly rich in polyphenols, which, along with fiber, play an important role in a cancer-protective diet. Choose raspberries that are firm, plump and dry. Store in the refrigerator, and wash them just prior to eating.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese and phytonutrients, which gives them their heart-healthy and anti-cancer powers. A cup of strawberries has 49 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Choose berries that are shiny and firm with a bright red color. Their caps should be fresh, green and intact. Store in the refrigerator, and wash just before eating.

Eating just one serving of strawberries — about eight of them — per day may help improve heart health, lower the risk of developing some cancers and lower blood pressure. It’s the potassium in strawberries that helps maintain normal blood pressure.

Research shows that individuals who eat strawberries on a regular basis have higher blood levels of folate, vitamin C and phytonutrients, as well as a higher intake of fiber, than those who don’t eat strawberries.

The bottom line? Including a daily serving of all the colorful berries might just help you achieve and maintain a lowered risk for developing certain diseases.


Q: Instead of the freshman 15, I feel like I’m gaining the “COVID 19.” What can I do?

A: When we’re home more, with easy access to the kitchen, it’s easy to snack mindlessly to break the boredom. One of the ways to prevent that is eat only in the kitchen rather than in front of the television or computer. Always put food on a plate rather than eating from a bag. It helps you know how much you’re eating — or overeating.

It may be best to portion out snacks into smaller-size bags, like the 100-calorie bags you can purchase. It also may help to put the foods you’re most likely to overeat in the back of your pantry and the better-for-you fruits and vegetables in a bowl on the table or ready to eat in the refrigerator.

Beef and Asparagus Negimaki

Cooking at home more has us all looking for some new and different recipes. Here’s a recipe for Beef and Asparagus Negimaki. Negimaki is a Japanese food consisting of broiled strips of beef marinated in teriyaki sauce and rolled with scallions. This recipe is from Good Housekeeping magazine.


» ⅓ cup hoisin sauce

» ⅓ cup mirin

» 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

» 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

» 3 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, divided

» 1 pound beef flank steak, butterflied and pounded 1/16-inch-thick

» 8 scallions

» 1 pound asparagus

» 1 tablespoon olive oil


In a medium bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil and 2 teaspoons sesame seeds. Transfer half (about 1/2 cup) to a medium bowl. Cut flank steak into 3-by-4-inch strips; add to bowl, and toss to coat. Let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium-low.

Thinly slice 1 scallion, and set aside for serving. Quarter remaining 7 scallions lengthwise, and then trim to 6 inches long. Trim asparagus to 6 inches long. Toss scallions and asparagus in olive oil. Perpendicular to a 4-inch side of 1 strip of steak, place 1 scallion quarter and 1 asparagus stalk. Roll and secure steak with toothpick through vegetables. Repeat with remaining meat and vegetables.

Grill, covered, basting twice with reserved marinade until lightly charred and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove toothpicks, and serve sprinkled with sliced scallion and remaining teaspoon sesame seeds.


Serves 8

Per serving: 130 calories; 13 grams protein; 4 grams carbohydrate; 6.5 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 1 gram fiber; 70 milligrams sodium

— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill., and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at, or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, and the current president of the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.