While I don’t believe in superfoods, I do think there are foods we should choose more often to include in our diet, including berries, avocadoes, leafy greens, pomegranates, salmon and whole grains such as quinoa.

A recent study, albeit small, highlights the power of adding strawberries to our plate. New research in the journal Nutrients found that eating 2½ cups of fresh strawberries daily for a month lowered participants LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood glucose and insulin resistance.

The study was conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The 14-week randomized, controlled crossover study assigned 33 adults with metabolic syndrome features (abdominal obesity and elevated blood cholesterol) to one of three phases.

The phases included a control powder beverage, a low dose of 13 grams freeze-dried strawberry powder (equal to one serving of fresh strawberries) and a high dose of 32 grams freeze-dried strawberry powder (equal to 2½ servings of fresh strawberries). Participants were instructed to follow their usual diet and lifestyle while refraining from eating other berries throughout the study. Data was collected at the beginning and end of each four-week phase.

Researchers found the highest dose of strawberries had the biggest effect on fasting insulin, insulin resistance and lipid particle profiles in adults with obesity.

The authors credit the fiber, phytosterols and polyphenols found in strawberries for the favorable outcomes.

The bottom line is, for those want to reduce their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular difficulties, strawberries may be a food to include more often.

Q&A

Q: I want to eat less sugar, but I seem to have cravings for sweets. What should I do?

A: Transform your relationship with the sweet stuff, and you’ll reap benefits of better sleep, more energy and a healthier you. Get started with a plan. Find a pleasurable activity so sugar isn’t the only pleasure in your day.

Try adding other foods besides sugar, such as fruit on your cereal or oatmeal or vanilla in your tea. Read labels to find out how much added sugar is in the foods you eat. Can you find a Greek yogurt or peanut butter with less sugar? Sugar is also in many of the sweet alcoholic drinks like margaritas.

Try cutting back. And eat mindfully — being fully aware and appreciating every bite. Try the three-bite rule for a dessert. Have three bites, and give the rest to a friend. Most of us are satisfied with the first three bites.

Strawberry Kale Salad

Here’s a Strawberry Kale Salad recipe to get you started on including more berries in your diet. It’s from the California Strawberry Commission.

Ingredients

» 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

» ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

» 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

» ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

» ¼ teaspoon black pepper

» ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

» 8 ounces baby kale, washed and chopped

» ½ pound strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters

» 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

» ½ cup pecans

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup, balsamic, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the oil, and whisk thoroughly to combine. Continue whisking until the dressing is fully emulsified. In a large bowl, add kale, strawberries, feta and pecans. Drizzle dressing on top, and stir gently until well combined.

Details

Servings: 8

Per serving: 292 calories; 3 grams protein; 11 grams carbohydrates; 28 grams fat (4.5 saturated); 13 milligrams cholesterol; 2 grams fiber; 6 grams sugar; 259 milligrams sodium

— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at charfarg@aol.com, or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Charlyn Fargo Ware

Charlyn Fargo Ware

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at charfarg@aol.com, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.