Health benefits of berries

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15 Amazing Health Benefits Of Berries You Didn’t Know About

Berries are wonderful fruits. You can put them in desserts, drinks, salads, or use them to adorn other foods like pancakes. You can even eat them by themselves and they still taste really good. As you’ve likely ascertained by now, berries also have a myriad of health benefits. Let’s take a look at how these tasty treats can help keep you healthy!

1. Berries are packed with antioxidants

Pretty much all berries are loaded to the brim with antioxidants. For those who don’t know, antioxidants help prevent illness, improve your skin and hair, and lead to a healthier life. That’s why people who drink smoothies all the time always seem so happy!

2. Berries can help you lose weight

Berries are low in calories and that means you can load up on them without packing on the pounds. Because they are juicy they contain a lot of water, so much of their mass is really water, which contains no calories at all. A medium sized strawberry has between three and six calories. A cup of blueberries has only about 80 calories. Instead of grabbing the potato chips, grab yourself some berries.

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3. Berries have a bunch of fiber

Pretty much all berries consist of about 85% water. The rest is mostly fiber and fiber is an integral part of a healthy diet. It helps you stay regular and maintain your weight, and is essential for bowel health. Keep in mind, though, that you must actually eat the fruit to get the fiber! There really isn’t any fiber in juice even if it’s 100% juice. To get the fiber, you’ll need to grind your berries up in a smoothie or eat them whole.

4. Berries contain a boat load of folate

Folate (better known as vitamin B) is known for its health benefits that include improvements to cardiovascular health. There are even studies that suggest that it can help stave off mood disorders like depression. It is especially good for pregnant women as it helps prevent fetal growth disorders and may prevent neurological birth defects.

5. Berries have a ton of anthocyanins

The jury is still out as to what anthocyanins do exactly, but pretty much everyone believes that they give you health benefits of some kind. For those who don’t know, anthocyanins are what gives berries their distinct colors. Think of them like nature’s food coloring. They are believed to have preventative and therapeutic properties, such as the ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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6. Berries can help manage and prevent diabetes

The nutrients in berries have been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes and that’s a good enough reason to eat them right there. However, they are also really good for people who already have diabetes. Thanks to the high fiber we talked about earlier and their ability to be sweet without having a lot of actual sugar, they are perfect for diabetics looking for a sweet treat.

7. Berries can help prevent mental decline

There was a study published that suggested that women who ate berries frequently could prevent the process of mental decline that comes with age. The study says that women who ate a healthy amount of berries had better thinking, reasoning, and memory. It’s not a wild difference but when you’re getting up there, everything helps right?

8. Cranberries and blueberries can help urinary tract infections

Studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice can help you get over urinary tract infections thanks to their nutrients and ability to flush out harmful agents that can cause infection. Another study showed that blueberries have more or less the same effect. If you’re looking for better urinary tract health, cranberry and blueberry juice are where it’s at!

9. All berries can help prevent heart disease

This is standard for pretty much all fruit. For each piece of fat-free, cholesterol-free, nutrient-packed berry you eat, that’s one step further away from heart disease you’ll come. We don’t need to tell you how many studies have shown this because it’s practically all of them. More colors in your diet is better and berries come in a lot of different colors!

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10. Strawberries can help keep your eyes healthy

Studies have shown that eating at least three servings of strawberries per week can help prevent macular degeneration.

11. Blueberries can be frozen without removing any of their antioxidants

All berries are great but there is the problem of them going bad. You can only buy so many at a time because all fruits tend to go bad pretty quickly. This isn’t a problem with blueberries because it’s been proven that you can freeze blueberries but still retain all of their nutritional benefits. That means you can stock up and keep them around for months!

12. Cranberries can actually help you more when taken as an extract

Cranberries are among the more unique berries. People actually don’t generally eat them raw because they are extremely tart. They’re usually sweetened and eaten dried or consumed as a beverage. However, they can also be taken in pill form as an extract. Recent studies have shown that taking them in “dietary supplement” form is actually vastly healthier for you than consuming the juice because the nutrients work best when you get all parts of the berry rather than just the juice.

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13. Cranberries can prevent cancer!

Numerous studies have shown that cranberries do a whole bunch of things to help prevent cancer. This is done in a number of ways, such as improving general health in your entire body, but there are also chemicals in cranberries that help prevent the formation of cancer cells.

14. Berries may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Some studies have suggested that the polyphenolics found in many berries help clean out the built up toxins in the brain that are a contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease. Nothing is concrete, mind you, but when it’s a brain disease as bad as Alzheimer’s, anything that could help is something worth trying out.

15. Berries may help prevent Parkinson’s disease

As we all know, the legendary Robin Williams died not long ago. One of the contributing factors was his recently diagnosed Parkinson’s disease. There have been studies that have shown that eating at least two servings of berries per week can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 25%, with some men facing a reduced risk of up to 40%.

It’s very easy to incorporate berries into almost any diet, and with the various health benefits discussed here there’s literally no reason not to make a better attempt at putting more of them in your diet. They are so healthy for you and they taste great. Go out and get some!

Featured photo credit: Love Grove Health Solutions via lovegrovehealthsolutions.com

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SOURCES:

American Institute for Cancer Research: “AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer: Blueberries.”

American Chemical Society: “Blueberries, the well-known ‘super-fruit’ could help fight Alzheimer’s.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Blueberries.”

Mayo Clinic: “What are acai berries and what are their possible health benefits?”

Northwestern University Women’s Health Research Institute: “Science and the Acai Berry.”

NC State: Plants for Human Health Institute: “Blackberries.”

Oregon State University/Berry Health Network: “Blackberries,” “Red Raspberries.”

UT El Paso/Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation: “Herbal Safety: Goji.”

National Health Service: “Do goji berries deserve their A-list status?”

NIH/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cranberry,” “Bilberry.”

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: “American cranberries and health benefits — an evolving story of 25 years.”

Iowa State University Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: “Aronia Berries.”

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: “Inorganic Macro- and Micronutrients in ‘Superberries’ Black Chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) and Related Teas.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture: “Investigating the Health Benefits of Berries.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Elderberry.”

University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service: “Cloudberries.”

California Kiwifruit Commission: “Health and Nutrition.”

Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: “The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta) — a Review.”

Advances in Gerontology: “Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats.”

USDA Forest Service: “Huckleberries.”

University of Minnesota Extension: “Currants and gooseberries in the home garden.”

European Journal of Cancer Prevention: “Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn,) a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer.”

Food & Function: “Hepatoprotective properties of the Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis Gaertn): a review.”

Pharmacological Research: “Emblica officinalis (Amla): A review for its phytochemistry, ethnomedicinal uses and medicinal potentials with respect to molecular mechanisms.”

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine: “Multiple Effects of Ginseng Berry Polysaccharides: Plasma Cholesterol Level Reduction and Enteric Neoplasm Prevention.”

International Journal of Nanomedicine: “Ginseng-berry mediated gold and silver nanoparticle synthesis and evaluation of their in vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, and cytotoxicity effects on human dermal fibroblast and murine melanoma skin cell lines.”

Journal of Food Science: “American Ginseng Berry Juice Intake Reduces Blood Glucose and Body Weight in ob/ob Mice.”

University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: “Avocado Information.”

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: “Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects.”

Produce for Better Health Foundation: “Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Avocados,” “About the Buzz: Are Strawberries the Superfood You’ve Been Eating Your Whole Life?”

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: “Potential Impact of Strawberries on Human Health: A Review of the Science.”

7 Health Benefits of Blueberries

Celebrate National Blueberry Month with nourishing food for thought.

There’s nothing quite like eating a juicy, delicious bowl of blueberries on a warm summer day. Not only do these seasonal delights taste good, but they are also packed with a variety of good-for-you nutrients. To celebrate National Blueberry Month, we’re sharing seven health benefits of blueberries. Adding this unique fruit to your daily diet can:

  1. Deliver healthy antioxidants
  2. Help with digestion
  3. Improve skin health
  4. Promote healthy bones
  5. Support healthy blood pressure
  6. Boost brain functioning
  7. Help protect against heart disease and cancer

Continue reading to learn more about how blueberries can nourish you from the inside out.

1. Deliver healthy antioxidants

Blueberries boast the highest antioxidant supply of all fresh fruit. Antioxidants serve several roles in your body, including boosting your immune system. Those found in blueberries, including anthocyanin, vitamin C, copper, and iron, work to amplify your immunity so you can prevent infections. A strong immune system can mean fewer colds, fevers, and other viral and bacterial diseases and infections.

2. Help with digestion

Just one cup of blueberries provides your body with 14% of the recommended daily dose of fiber that can help promote digestive regularity and prevent constipation. You can also hold fiber responsible for that feeling of satisfaction and fullness you experience after eating this delicious fruit, which is a health benefit that can help limit impulse eating.

3. Improve skin health

Collagen, the support system of the skin, relies heavily on vitamin C and helps prevent skin damage caused by UV rays, smoke, dust, and pollution. Blueberries are loaded with this skin-healthy vitamin with one cup providing 24% of the recommended daily dose.

4. Promote healthy bones

Another health benefit of blueberries is their impact on bone health. They are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin K, which all work to strengthen bones and maintain bone structure. Low intakes of vitamin K have been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture, so blueberries can help you get your daily recommended dose of these nutrients that can keep your body strong.

Check out seven more ways to boost bone strength here.

5. Support healthy blood pressure

Several studies have linked blueberry consumption to noticeable reductions in blood pressure. With high blood pressure recognized as one of the risk factors for heart disease, consuming blueberries daily can be a simple – and delicious – way to support your heart health.

6. Boost brain functioning

Antioxidants also serve another critical function in the body: they can counteract stresses that accelerate the brain’s aging process. According to research, antioxidants in blueberries tend to accumulate in areas of the brain linked with intelligence. This health benefit of blueberries can enhance memory and improve overall cognitive functioning.

Looking to exercise your brain? Try these fun activities to help keep your mind sharp here.

7. Help protect against heart disease and cancer

In a 2013 study, eating anthocyanins, the primary antioxidant found in blueberries, was linked to a 32% lower risk of heart attacks. The study found that women who consumed at least three servings of blueberries or strawberries per week had the best results.

Additionally, research suggests that antioxidants, like those found in blueberries, can prevent tumors, lower inflammation, and help prevent several types of cancers. Folate, a vitamin that works in DNA synthesis and repair, is also present in blueberries and can prevent the formation of cancer cells from DNA mutations.

To help protect your ticker, check out more heart-healthy foods you’ll love here.

With these health benefits of blueberries in mind, try these tasty and refreshing recipes from Cooking Light and Bon Appetit this summer and beyond.

By adding more vegetables and fruits like blueberries to your diet, you’ll help give your body the gift of good health. For more health and wellness articles to help you feel your best, visit our blog today.

7 Reasons Raspberries Are So Good for You

Raspberries are enjoyable all year long, whether they’re fresh or frozen. These gorgeous gems aren’t just delicious and versatile; they have an impressive nutritional profile that makes them one of the healthiest choices in the produce aisle. Here are 7 health benefits of raspberries, plus simple ways to include both fresh and frozen options into meals and snacks.

Raspberries have lots of nutrients

One cup of raspberries provides over 50% of the minimum daily target for vitamin C, which supports immunity and skin health and helps produce collagen. Raspberries also contain manganese and vitamin K, which both play a role in bone health. And they supply smaller amounts of vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium.

RELATED: 9 Fruits You Can Actually Eat on the Keto Diet

They’re low in sugar

Raspberries are also one of the lowest-sugar fruits, at just 5 grams per cup fresh, compared to about 20 grams in one medium apple. This makes them a great option for anyone with a sweet tooth who wants to minimize their overall sugar intake.

They’re rich in anti-aging antioxidants

Raspberries are antioxidant powerhouses. These health-protective compounds have been tied to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Raspberry antioxidants also help reduce inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging. The natural protective substances in raspberries are also linked to better DNA repair and blocking enzymes that trigger arthritis pain.

They can protect you from cancer

Raspberry antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are associated with cancer protection by reducing the reproduction of cancer cells. However, research also shows that the phytonutrients in raspberries, such as ellagitannins, may actually help kill cancer cells by signaling apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

RELATED: 6 Healthiest Berries for Women’s Hearts

Raspberries are high in fiber

A cup of raspberries packs an impressive 8 grams of dietary fiber, a third of the daily minimum goal. This high-fiber content also reduces raspberries’ net carb content to about 7 grams per cup (since our bodies aren’t capable of digesting and absorbing fiber). That fiber also contributes to fullness, blunts blood sugar by slowing digestion, and supports good digestive health. Raspberry fiber also helps beneficial gut bacteria flourish. The latter are linked to stronger immunity and a more positive mood.

They may help prevent diabetes

A new study from the Illinois Institute of Technology randomly assigned 32 adults between the ages of 20 and 60 to three breakfast meals. Each meal was similar in calories and macronutrients, but they had different portion sizes of frozen red raspberries: One meal contained no raspberries, the second included one cup, and the third provided two cups.

Researchers found that for those who were at risk of diabetes, eating more raspberries reduced the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar levels. In fact, blood sugar was lower in those who downed two cups of red raspberries compared to those who ate none.

RELATED: 7 Health Benefits of Cherries

Raspberries sharpen your brain and memory

Raspberries help counter oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to fight off their harmful effects. Because oxidative stress is a causative factor in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, raspberries are a top brain-supporting food. The flavonoids in berries have also been shown to help improve coordination, memory, and mood. And berries help with general brain “housekeeping” by clearing out toxic proteins tied to brain dysfunction.

How to add more raspberries to your meals

Raspberries make a beautiful and tasty addition to numerous dishes, and they work well in both sweet and savory meals. Add them to oatmeal or overnight oats, garden salads, whole grain side dishes, and desserts. Slightly mash them to make a colorful sauce for anything from two ingredient banana egg pancakes to broiled fish or oven roasted veggies. Whip frozen raspberries into smoothies, or thaw and use just like fresh.

I also love to warm frozen raspberries over low heat on the stovetop with fresh grated ginger root and cinnamon (and maybe a touch of pure maple syrup) as the base for a mock cobbler, topped with almond butter/rolled oat crumble, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or shaved dark chocolate. Frozen, thawed, or fresh raspberries also make a great snack, paired with nuts, pumpkin seeds, or a few dark chocolate squares, or drizzled with nut butter or spiced tahini.

Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

RELATED: Is It Possible to Eat too Much Fruit?

Not only are raspberries vibrant, exquisite, and delicate, they’re also a powerhouse of innumerable health benefits. The fruit which is a rich source of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, when included in your daily diet can help lower risk of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and even enhance fertility. Learn more of the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

  • Cancer Fighting Properties: Raspberries are packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants. They have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any fruit on earth, almost 10x as much as tomatoes. Raspberries also contain ellagic acid, a natural phenol antioxidant found in fruits and veggies and is prevalent in berries. Animal studies revealed raspberry phytonutrients have an important role in lowering oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, and thereby altering the development or reproduction of cancer cells.
  • Maintains cardiovascular health: The potassium content in berries helps regulates heart beat and blood pressure. Raspberries are rich in minerals like manganese, copper and iron which produce red blood cells.
  • Improves fertility: An article in Medical Daily claims that the Vitamin C and magnesium in raspberries might improve fertility in both men and women. One theory asserts that the antioxidants in raspberries protect sperm health, promote conception, and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
  • Mood and Memory Boosting: Consuming berries can prevent brain damage and memory loss associated with aging. They also stave off disease and other symptoms of old age by reducing stress through their antioxidants. One study fund that higher intake of flavonoid-rich berries can reduce cognitive decline. Interestingly enough, anthocyanin works in synergy with quercetin to prevent age-related memory loss.
  • Healthy Tissues and Blood Vessels: Raspberries are full of Vitamin C which helps repair skin tissues and aids in cell regeneration of the skin, bones, ligaments and blood vessels.
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: Raspberry prevents damage to the cell membranes through its anti-inflammatory properties that help with heart-disease, fortify your immune system, and aid with digestion. A recent study claims that the Ellagic acid, a natural phenol antioxidant found in fruits and veggies and prevalent in raspberry juice, is responsible for the berry’s anti-inflammatory effect in the gastro-intestinal tract.
  • Boosts Immunity: Raspberries are rich in Vitamin C, which increases general immunity to everyday illnesses and rare infections. Vitamin C boosts the antioxidant levels in raspberries and helps clean blood cells so they can stave off unwanted viral incursions. The anti-oxidants like phenols and anthocyanin keep us healthy in the now and staves off some of the effects of aging so we can remain healthy for years to come.
  • Maintains Eye Health: The combination of antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin A and phenols in raspberries ward off disease and safeguard the membranes of the eye that produce the watery fluid thereby cleaning and protecting the eyes from drying out. Ellagic acid is also an active component of healthy vision.
  • Good for Diabetics: The Rheosmin, Tiliroside, Fructose, high fiber and low glycemic index of Raspberries makes them a sweet treat for diabetics and anyone who has to watch their blood sugar levels.
  • Aids in Weight Loss: Raspberry is low in fat and high in fiber, so they’ll fill you up without weighing you down with extra calories. They’re also full of water and potassium which will stave off dehydration and all the unpleasant side-effects that accompany it.

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There’s nothing like raspberries to brighten up a cold, dark January day. Of course, the fresh sort will be jet-lagged, scarily expensive and disappointingly flavour-free. But at this time of year frozen, preferably British, raspberries really come into their own.

The freezing process accentuates their sharp, fresh flavour, and they retain their seductive perfume, providing a refreshing contrast to stick-to-the-ribs winter food. They’re perfect after Christmas when you can’t work up any enthusiasm for autumn’s apples and pears, and clementines and satsumas are turning dry and fibrous.

Why are they good for me?

As fruits go, they are relatively low in sugar (fructose), so for anyone who wants to lose weight, this makes them a wiser choice than, say, a banana or a mango. As a good source of vitamin C, they also help the immune system.

Raspberries are also a really rich source of naturally occurring flavonoid and phenolic compounds. These valuable micronutrients have an antioxidant effect, which helps neutralise changes in cells that might lead to illness and disease. Research suggests that these substances in berries can reduce the spread of cancer and help brain cells function properly.

Where to buy, what to pay

Thanks to the downmarket image of frozen food, raspberries – regarded as an aristocrat among fruits when fresh – are surprisingly affordable when frozen. Farm shops that have stored their summer harvest, unpromising looking freezer food shops and foreign discount chains are particularly good places to buy them. Aim to pay no more than £2.50 for 500g: that’s less than half the price of the fresh summer equivalent.

• Joanna Blythman is the author of What To Eat (published by Fourth Estate). Order a copy for £11 with free UK p&p from guardianbookshop.co.uk or call 0330 333 6846

What are the benefits of blackberries?

The following are some of the benefits people can gain by eating blackberries:

1. Vitamin C

Share on PinterestBlackberries are high in vitamin C.

Blackberries contain a high level of vitamin C. One serving of 100 grams (g) contains 35 percent of an individual’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C.

Humans are unable to synthesize their own vitamin C, so it is essential to include it as part of a healthy diet.

Vitamin C is involved in protein synthesis and is necessary for the body to produce collagen and certain neurotransmitters. These processes are vital for many bodily functions, including wound healing.

Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties and is involved in immune system functioning.

2. Source of fiber

A 100 g serving of blackberries contains 14 percent of the RDA of fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot break down into smaller, sugar molecules, as it does with other carbs. Fiber plays an crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels and sugar consumption.

There are two types of fiber in food, soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and it is associated with lowering blood sugar levels and helping a person maintain a healthy level of cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water but supports healthy digestion.

Blackberries contain both soluble and insoluble types of fiber.

3. Antioxidants

Blackberries contain high levels of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins. Antioxidants help people to fight against the adverse impact of free radicals in the body.

Free radicals can damage cells and are thought to be closely involved in the aging process plus other health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.

The body uses antioxidants to reduce the damage that free radicals can cause. It is possible that when people eat foods that contain antioxidants, they are supporting this process, but more research is required to confirm this.

4. Vitamin K

Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamin K. This is a necessary nutrient for blood clotting, which is essential for proper wound healing.

People have also linked good bone health to vitamin K. However, it is essential that a person discusses their vitamin K intake with their doctor if they are on any blood thinners.

5. Vitamin A

Blackberries also contain vitamin A, which serves several functions in the body. Vitamin A supports the immune system, which combats infections and illness. It also supports the growth and maintenance of teeth and bones, as well as keeping skin healthy.

Vitamin A is responsible for producing the pigments in the retina of the eye and helps to support sight, particularly in dim lighting.

6. Brain functioning

A study in 2009 found that rats that consumed blackberries had improved cognitive and motor skills compared to a control group of rats that did not consume blackberries.

The authors of the study suggested that this could be due to chemicals called polyphenols that are in blackberries.

More research is needed to determine if these benefits occur in humans.

5 Health Benefits of Blackberries (Including the Frozen Kind)

Blackberries are a hallmark of summer. Throughout the warmer months, you can find bushels at the farmer’s market. But these all-star berries can (and should!) be enjoyed year-round—just look for them in your grocer’s freezer aisle. Your body will thank you, because the nutritional value of blackberries is pretty darn impressive. Here are five health benefits you can expect, plus some simple ways to incorporate blackberries—fresh and frozen—into your diet.

Blackberries are high in fiber

One cup of fresh berries (or 1¼ cups frozen) provides about 60 calories, along with nearly 8 grams of fiber. That’s about a third of the amount of fiber you should aim to eat in a day. All that fiber will help increase satiety, curb cholesterol, support weight loss, and regulate blood sugar and insulin levels (more on that below). It will also boost your digestive health: Blackberries are prebiotics, which means they feed the friendly bacteria in your gut that have been tied to immunity, mood, and anti-inflammatory effects.

They’re also rich in vitamin C

You’ll get about half of the recommended daily target for vitamin C in a cup of raw blackberries. In addition to supporting immunity and healthy skin, this potent antioxidant is needed for DNA repair, and the production of collagen and serotonin (the neurotransmitter that helps promote happiness and sleep).

RELATED: 6 Healthiest Berries for Women’s Hearts

Blackberries support bone health

A one-cup portion of raw blackberries packs over a third of the daily mark for vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, and is essential for your bones. Vitamin K is required for bone formation, and several studies have shown that a shortfall is linked to increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis. The manganese in blackberries (you’ll get half the daily advised intake in one cup) also supports bone health, as well as collagen production for healthy skin and joints.

They help control blood sugar

Blackberries rank low on the glycemic index at 25. (A high ranking is 55 or greater.) They’re also one of the lowest sugar fruits, with just 7 grams per cup fresh (compared to 16 grams in a cup of fresh pineapple chunks). The low sugar content combined with the high fiber content makes them an excellent option for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels.

RELATED: How to Make Hazelnut Waffles with Blackberries

And protect your brain, too

The antioxidants in berries, including blackberries, have been shown to help reduce brain inflammation, and change the way neurons communicate. These outcomes help to fend off age-related memory loss, protect motor coordination, and ward off cognitive decline.

How to eat more blackberries

You can add fresh blackberries to anything from oatmeal or overnight oats to yogurt, garden salads, and whole grain side dishes. They also make a yummy topping for desserts, like chocolate avocado pudding. You can add slightly mashed berries to drinking water, or puree them with a little fresh ginger root and honey to make a simple sauce.

Got a bag of frozen berries? You can whip them into smoothies, of course, or thaw and use them as you would use fresh berries. For a quick and delicious dessert, sauté frozen blackberries in a sauce pan over low heat, along with a little fresh grated ginger and maple syrup. Top the warm berries with a crumble made from rolled oats mixed with almond butter and ground cinnamon.

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Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Health and Nutrition Benefits of Raspberries and Blackberries

There are many good reasons to eat raspberries and blackberries.

They are high in Vitamin C, which prevents scurvy, reduces risk of stroke, and helps prevent cancer initiation. They are good sources of Folate, which is an especially important nutrient for pregnant women, since it helps prevent neural tube (spinal column) defects. It may also help prevent heart disease. They are cholesterol free and virtually fat free. They are sources of dietary fiber that lowers cholesterol and may help prevent colon cancer and heart disease. They are low in calories. All these make bramble fruit a good addition to your diet.

But that’s not all. Raspberries and blackberries have been shown to contain healthful substances which research shows may slow down the aging process, boost immunity, and protect against chronic disease, including heart disease and cancer. (See Phytochemicals in Raspberries and Blackberries)

An increasing number of studies link various foods–especially berries and other intensely colored fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, and carrots–with improved health and disease prevention. Some of the healthful, bioactive substances in these foods appear to be the pigments that give them their bright colors. Others are flavor compounds, such as those that give an astringent taste to the seeds.

For example, anthocyanin, which gives berries their red color, is an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, which may cause aging of cells. Researchers are currently linking anthocyanin activity to improving vision, controlling diabetes, improving circulation, preventing cancer and heart disease, and retarding the effects of aging, particularly loss of memory and motor skills. Ellagic acid, a phenolic compound found in berries, has exhibited anti-carcinogenic effects against a wide range of carcinogens in several tissues. And ellagic acid has been shown, in studies with rats and mice, to contribute to significant inhibition of colon, esophageal, liver,lung, tongue, and skin cancers.

Why not just take a nutritional supplement?

When it comes to nutrition, no one has been able to outsmart Mother Nature. Research shows that it is a combination of phytochemicals working together with the berry’s fiber, vitamins, and minerals which make it so effective. For example, the combination of anthocyanins, Vitamin C, and ellagic acid can act together, contributing to berries’ high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, a measure of antioxidant effectiveness. Antioxidants are shown to work best when combined; the presence of fiber, and other plant compounds enhance the health benefit. Scientists have also found that raspberries blackberries may have cancer-fighting properties, but cannot attribute them to only one component. For these reasons, a nutraceutical source — a food with health properties — is a more viable antioxidant option than a dietary supplement. And a lot tastier!

Fact Sheets

Blackberries | Blueberries Black Raspberries| Red Raspberries | Strawberries

Scientists have found berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits (measured as ORAC), and kale and spinach are the only vegetables with ORAC values as high as fresh, delicious berries. Fresh berries are some of the most powerful (and delicious) disease-fighting foods available.

Anthocyanins
Color pigments in berries that are powerful antioxidants. Blue, purple, and red color has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging.

Antioxidants
Substances that protect the body by neutralizing free radicals or unstable oxygen molecules, which can damage the cells and are a major source of disease and aging.

Catechins
Catechins are flavonols that support the antioxidant defense system.Catechins found in caneberries are very similar to those found in green tea which studies show may contribute to cancer prevention. The catechins content found in 100 grams (about 3 /4 cup) is as follows: red raspberries, .83 milligrams and Evergreen blackberries, 1.4 milligrams.

Dietary Fiber
Found only in plant foods, fiber helps maintain a healthy GI tract, lowers blood cholesterol, reduces heart disease and may prevent certain types of cancers.

Ellagic Acid
A phenolic compound known as a potent anti-carcinogen which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Scientists feel ellagic acid plays a major roll in cancer prevention and tumor reversal.

Fiber
A carbohydrate-like substance found only in plants. Dietary fiber helps maintain a healthy
gastrointestinal tract and may help prevent certain types of cancers. It can also help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.

Gallic Acid
A potent antioxidant also found in black tea and red wine, shown in tests to inhibit cell proliferation and cell death in prostrate cancer cells.

ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values are a measure of the antioxidant activity. Specifically, it measures the degree and length of time it takes to inhibit the action of an oxidizing agent. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation which is known to have a damaging effect on tissues. Studies now suggest that consuming fruits and vegetables with a high ORAC value may slow the aging process in both body and brain. Antioxidants are shown to work best when combined; the presence of fiber and other plant compounds enhance the health benefit. For this reason, a nutraceutical source is a more viable antioxidant option than that of a dietary supplement.

Single servings of fresh or freshly cooked fruits and vegetables supply an average of 600-800 ORAC units. Scientists believe that increasing intake of foods that provide 2000-5000 units per day may be needed to increase serum and tissue antioxidant activity sufficiently to improve health outcomes.

Phytochemicals
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring antioxidants in plants that add flavor, color pigments and scent, and they are abundant in all types of fruits and vegetables, particularly berries.

The pigments that give berries their rich red to blue, black and purple colors are a type of phytochemical that has been shown to have significant disease-fighting, cell-protecting antioxidant capacity.

Quercetin
A flavonol that works as both an anti-carcinogen, an antioxidant and protects against cancer and heart disease.

Rutin
A bioflavonoid that promotes vascular health, helps to prevent cell proliferation associated with cancer and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.

Salicylic Acid
The salicylic acid found in Oregon caneberries may prove to have the same protective effect against heart disease as aspirin. Aspirin is a closely related compound know to pharmacists as salicylic acid acetate. The therapeutic successes of small daily doses of aspirin to inhibit atherosclerosis suggest the possibility that salicylic acid consumed in foods may provide a similar benefit. A 100-gram serving (about 3 /4 cup) of red raspberries contains around 5 milligrams of salicylic acid.

Vitamin C
A water soluble vitamin that functions as a powerful antioxidant.

Source: Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission

Berries have been shown to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. It seems new research is constantly being published and berries are being recognized and analyzed for their health giving properties.

Extremely high in antioxidants, berries are among my favorite foods. In no specific order, these are berries that are extremely high health benefits:

Berries You Should Eat Every Day

1. Goji Berries

Sometimes called Chinese Wolfberry or Mede Berry, traditional societies link this potent berry to sexual vitality, happiness, longevity, and overall physical strength. Grown in Tibet and Nepal, goji berries have been scientifically linked to possessing the ability to fight negative health conditions and protect the liver from contaminates.

Deep red in color, goji berries are composed of 18 essential amino acids, 21 trace minerals, vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E, linoleic acid, selenium, germanium, and more beta carotene than the common carrot.

A study from the Chinese Journal of Oncology found that patients with cancer responded better to treatment when goji berries were added to their daily diet.

2. Blueberries

The blueberry is an antioxidant powerhouse. That deep blue color is related to high amounts of phytonutrients called anthocyanidins . These phytonutrients aid in the process of neutralizing free radical damage in our cells.

Overtime, the collagen matrix of our tissues and cells begins to deteriorate. Blueberries help to keep this from happening, with a high capacity for free-radical neutralization.

A recent study from Tufts University analyzed over 50 common fruits and vegetables for hard scientific data on their antioxidant capabilities. Blueberries consistently ranked at the top of this list.

Blueberries also help to reduce our chances of developing diseases related to redness of the cells. This includes a reduced risk for heart disease, cataracts, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, glaucoma, and peptic ulcers. The American Institute for Cancer Research states, “We now know that blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances that can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer.”

3. Acai Berries

The acai berry is a relatively new-found health treasure. Once only known in the forests of the Amazon rainforest, the acai berry was traditionally used as a powerfully healing, energy-boosting fruit.

Similar to red wine, acai berries are dense in levels of anthocyanins, a substance associated with heart health and lowered levels of cholesterol.

Due to their strong antioxidant contents, acai berries are also related to slowing the process of aging and preventing diseases related to cellular oxidative damage. One acai berry holds ten times the amount of antioxidant vitamins as grapes, and two times the amount of blueberries.

4. Bilberries

Three times smaller than the blue berry, but similar in appearance and flavor, bilberries are extremely high in antioxidant anthocyanidins.

Bilberries are known for helping diabetes, as anthocyanidins protect the lining of blood vessels from being degenerated through the process of toxic oxidation . Bilberries have also been linked to possessing components that aid in the ability to increase night vision, protect the eyes, and reduce the occurrence of poor vision, cataracts, and macular degeneration .

Bilberries also hold components that increase the amount of blood flow to the circulatory vessels. This allows them to be useful in treating conditions related to circulatory concerns such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Bilberries are best taken in a supplement or extract form.

Other Names for Bilberries: Huckleberry, Wineberry, Dyeberry

5. Strawberries

There are over 600 varieties of strawberries on the earth so you won’t have to look hard to find this deep-red health booster. Strawberries are high in antioxidant phytonutrients known as phenols. Phenols are responsible for protecting us from disease and promoting good health.

Studies show that strawberries may also help protect the brain with a powerful antioxidant capacity. Strawberries reduce macular degeneration of the eyes, and are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, many B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, iodine, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and copper.

One study from Cornell University demonstrated that strawberries stopped the proliferation of HepG(2) liver cancer cells . Another study showed that a substance found in the berry called isothiocyanate inhibited esophageal cancer.

6. Blackberries

Blackberries are more than just powerful antioxidants. They are also extremely high in some of the highest forms of chronic disease and cancer-fighting compounds: vitamins C, E, and ellagic acid. They also hold high levels the soluble fiber known as pectin, a substance that studies link to lowered levels of cholesterol. Related to the rose, lab studies on these thorny-bushed berries at Ohio State University showed the ability to stop tumor formation in the oral cavity, as well as proliferation of colon cancer cells.

7. Cherries

Cherries are high in quercetin and ellagic acid. This antioxidant flavonoid has been shown to promote cell and tissue health.

Cherries are also high in anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, substances related to reducing the joint and muscle discomfort. Cherries also contain melatonin, an important natural chemical related to healthy sleep rhythms and maintaining a youthful appearance.

Growing Your Own Berries

Most berries are fairly easy to grow and are fun to pick and eat first thing in the morning for breakfast. I recommend purchased berries be organically certified. Although not listed, raspberries are extremely high in ellagic acid and also have tremendous health benefits.

What are your favorite berries?

References (4)

  1. Andres-Lacueva, Cristina Shukitt-Hale, Barbara, Galli Rachel, Jauregui, Olga, Lamuela-Raventos, Rosa, Joseph, James A. Anthocyanins in aged blueberry-fed rats are found centrally and may enhance memory. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2005 April. vol.8 issue2, pages 111-120.
  2. Bell DR, Gochenaur K. Direct vasoactive and vasoprotective properties of anthocyanin-rich extracts. J Appl Physiol. 2006 Apr;100(4):1164-70. Epub 2005 Dec 8.
  3. Fursova AZh, Gesarevich OG, Gonchar AM, Trofimova NA, Kolosova NG. Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats. Adv Gerontol. 2005;16:76-9. Russian.
  4. Meyers KJ, Watkins CB, Pritts MP, Liu RH. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of strawberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Nov 5;51(23):6887-92.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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Berries

I recommend one daily serving of berries (half cup fresh or frozen, or a quarter cup dried) and three daily servings of other fruit (a medium-sized fruit, a cup cut-up fruit, or a quarter cup dried). Why do I single out berries?

Berries are the healthiest fruits—due in part to their plant pigments. They evolved to have bright, contrasting colors to attract fruit-eating critters to help disperse their seeds, and the same molecular characteristics that give berries such vibrant colors may account for some of their antioxidant abilities. Berries are second only to herbs and spices as the most antioxidant-packed food category. As a group, they average nearly 10 times more antioxidants than other fruits and vegetables, and exceed 50 times more than animal-based foods.

Berries offer potential protection against cancer, a boost to the immune system, and a guard for the liver and brain. An American Cancer Society study of nearly 100,000 men and women found that those who ate the most appeared significantly less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, for disease prevention, berries of all colors have “emerged as champions,” according to the head of the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory. The purported anticancer properties of berry compounds have been attributed to their apparent ability to counteract, reduce, and repair damage resulting from oxidative stress and inflammation. They may also boost our levels of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that’s a vital member of the immune system’s rapid-response team against virus-infected and cancerous cells.

Special antioxidant pigments in berries and dark-green leafies may make them the brain foods of the fruit and vegetable kingdom. Harvard University researchers, using data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed the diets and health of 16,000 women, found that women who consumed at least one serving of blueberries and two servings of strawberries each week had slower rates of cognitive decline by as much as two and a half years compared with those who didn’t eat any. These results suggest that simply eating a handful of berries every day may slow our brain’s aging by more than two years.

Image Credit: Amanda Rae. This image has been modified.

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