Berries and diary are a super popular combination – blueberries and milk in your smoothie, raspberries and yoghurt for breakfast, strawberries and a milk based coffee for morning tea. However you may not be getting bang for your buck when it comes to the amazing goodness of the antioxidants found in these berries. Read on below for all the details – or if you don’t have time to read head over to and let me explain it whilst you continue with your daily tasks.


Berries of all types are known for their antioxidant properties. However combining them with dairy is reducing all these great benefits. I’m sure you have all heard of antioxidants and know that they are good for you. But do you understand what they actually do in your body? Let me quickly explain.


What do antioxidants actually do?

I’m sure you have all seen a piece of iron that has been exposed to the elements for too long. The metal begins to break down and rust. That is pretty much what happens to the outside of our cells. Within our bodies are lots of molecules think fats that transport our hormones, our DNA and cell proteins. When oxygen is metabolised is creates ‘free radicals’ and they aren’t the most nicest of molecules in our bodies. These guys are highly reactive and steel electrons from the other molecules. Now each molecule needs a certain balance of electrons to function properly. It would be the equivalent of having a blender with the some of the blades missing – sure it still makes all the noise and whizzes the food around but doesn’t really do it’s proper job.

Now some of these free radicals are fine, in fact some of them are needed for our body to function. As with most things it’s the excess that causes the damage, and in severe cases the damage may be irreversible.

A quick side note here – oxidation is accelerated by smoking, alcohol, pollution and stress. So thinking about the impact these factors are having on you is worth noting.

There are lots of nutrients that have anti-oxidant properties. The ones found in berries are actually a phytochemicals – which is a plant chemical and specifically a polyphenol called anthocyanin. This is what gives berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and even eggplant their bright rich colours.


So how can berries help?

Basically when we consume them they are broken down into smaller molecules and instead of those pesky free radicals steeling electrons from other molecules, the broken down metabolised berries run defence, throwing themselves at the mercy of these free radicals so instead of our cells and DNA becoming rusty, our metabolised berries rust for us.

Now this is where it starts to get interesting. There has been quite a few studies conducted on the effects of diary and the bioavailability (the amount of substance that can enter our body and have effect) of the anthocyanins found in berries. And the results are not good. Consuming your berries with diary all but cancels out the good anti-oxidant effects of anthocyanins.

Berries and diary: the studies.

Berries and diary

The study had people consume 200g of blueberries with either 200ml of water or 200ml of milk. When consumed with the water it was shown that blueberries increased plasma concentrations of antioxidants to the usual high level and also enhanced a few of the other antioxidant compounds (caffeic and ferulic acids). However when consumed with the milk the blueberries had virtually no effect on those great plasma concentrations of antioxidant we come to know from blueberries. It also decreased the uptake of those other antioxidant compounds – caffeic and ferulic acids. This is due to the antioxidants binding with the milk proteins and not roaming free to run defence with those pesky free radicals.

So what can you do…

Rethink your food combining.

  • Change the milk in your berry smoothies.
  • No more yoghurt on your fruit in the morning (if you add berries)
  • Swap your berries for morning tea if you are having a milk based coffee


Here are some alternatives.

Choose a plant based milk instead for your berry smoothies. This could be almond, coconut, soy, rice or oat milk. Adding these milks in will also give you different nutrients great for you health. Make sure you choose good quality ones. I recommend Australia’s Own, Pure Harvest and Bon Soy.

Swap your dairy based yoghurt for a coconut one. These are super creamy and given their slightly higher fat content you won’t need as much. I’ve done a bit of a comparison between brands and can recommend Coyo and Yococonut – found in Aldi as they have live cultures, don’t use artificial thickness or water, making them thick and creamy.

Instead of having your fruit for morning tea, swap it for some veggie sticks and have your fruit in the afternoon. Or swap your coffee for an infused water or herbal tea.

If you have any other questions about this please feel free to contact me.        



Huang, W., Zhu, Y., L,i C., Su,i Z. & Min, W. (2016). Effect of Blueberry Anthocyanins Malvidin and Glycosides on the Antioxidant Properties in Endothelial Cells. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (Feb)

Kuntz, S., Rudloff, S., Asseburg, H., Borsch, C., Fröhling, B., Unger, F., Dold, S., Spengler, B., Römpp, A. & Kunz, C. (2015). Uptake and bioavailability of anthocyanins and phenolic acids from grape/blueberry juice and smoothie in vitro and in vivo. British Journal of Nutrition 113(7), 1044-1055.

Serafini, M., Testa, M.F., Villaño, D., Pecorari, M., van Wieren, K., Azzini, E., Brambilla, A. & Maiani, G. (2009). Antioxidant activity of blueberry fruit is impaired by association with milk. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 46(6), 769-74.