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Berries, from ruby red strawberries to midnight blueberries, may be candy for your taste buds, but they are magic for your blood sugar. Their sweetness is deceptive.

Fructose, the natural sugar found in most fruits, is sweeter than what is in your sugar bowl (sucrose), so it takes much less (with fewer calories) to get that sweet taste. And fructose is friendlier to blood sugar, causing a much slower rise than table sugar does.

Berries are full of fiber and red and blue natural plant compounds called athocyanins that may help keep your blood sugar in check. Scientists believe athocyanins, also found in cherries, may help lower blood sugar by boosting insulin production.

Opt for fresh or frozen berries over berry juices. While the juices are packed with the same phytonutrients as whole berries, they are concentrated sources of carbs, and they lack an important ingredient for blood sugar – fiber.

What about that jar of jam or jelly in your fridge? Spread lightly. Even those labels that say they are 100% natural fruit spread contain either added sugar or added fruit juice and have higher glycemic levels then whole fresh fruit. Still, a tablespoon is fine if you spread it on whole wheat toast or a whole wheat English muffin.

Health Bonus of Berries

Berries, especially blueberries, have a well earned reputation for being especially rich in powerful disease fighting antioxidant. Study showed that if you can make berries a daily indulgence; they can help keep your eyes healthy, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and work to keep your brain and memory in tiptop shape. Strawberries are a surprisingly good source of heart-healthy vitamin C giving even oranges a run for their money; a cup of strawberry halves provides as much C as a cup for orange sections. And studies show that people who eat a serving of strawberries a day tend to have lower blood pressure and higher blood levels of the B vitamin folate, important for keeping arteries clear.

Eating cranberries can help fend off urinary tract infections. Experts say that about 1 ½ half ounces (45 g) of dried cranberries a day could do the trick. Researchers have discovered that blueberries contain some of the same infection-fighting compounds as cranber