They are small, but powerful. In fact, they are one of the most powerful disease-fighting foods you can eat!
Take your pick – acai berries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries – they are all packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and water.
Berries get their beautiful red, blue and purple colors from a group of phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are one of the types of antioxidants in berries. In fact, berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits. (1) Antioxidants are important because they protect your body from free radicals, which can damage cells and cause disease and premature aging. Other antioxidants found in berries are: catechins, ellagic acid, gallic acid, quercetin, rutin and vitamin C. For more information on these healthful compounds, check out this Berry Health Fact Sheet.
Studies show that regularly eating berries can help prevent multiple health problems, from: cancer to diabetes, inflammation and cognitive decline. They can also improve cardiovascular health.
Some Berry Good Health Benefits…
- Weight and blood sugar control – Berries are high in water and fiber. This desirable combination makes them low in calories and high in satiety. It is the perfect recipe for weight management, blood sugar control and gastrointestinal health.
- Cancer prevention – The AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer list (American Institute for Cancer Research) is full of berries! The anthocyanins and other antioxidants found in berries can help kill cancer cells, or prevent them from growing and spreading.
- Heart health – Anthocyanins may help reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness and overall inflammation. The fiber in berries can also contribute to reduced cholesterol. A recent study by Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia in the UK, shows that eating three servings per week of berries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women. (2)
- Brain power – Berries can help our memory and ability to learn by boosting neuron health, blood flow and minimizing cell oxidation. They are also linked to a decrease in age-related cognitive decline, alzheimers and dementia.
While research is ongoing to determine the exact mechanisms for improved health, scientists all seem to agree that berries are da bomb! So, what are you waiting for? Grab a handful of berries for a snack! Add them to a hot or cold cereal or toss them into a salad. Berries are also delicious in a smoothie, on top of yogurt, or they can make a healthy dessert.
If you can’t find fresh berries, frozen (unsweetened) berries will work as well! Try to buy organic if you can. Berries are susceptible to pesticide residue. In fact, strawberries topped the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list for 2017.
Check out these resources for more ways to enjoy berries…
- Healthy Berry Recipes from Eating Well
- 26 Berry Recipes from Cooking Light
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Blackberries
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Blueberries
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Cranberries
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Raspberries
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Strawberries
- Fact Sheets. Berry Health Benefits Network. Accessed August 18, 2017.
- Schaeffer, Juliann. Latest Scoop on Berries — Harvard Study Shows Heart Health Benefits for Young Women. Today’s Dietitian. June 2013; 15(6): 16.
- Thalheimer, Judith. Celebrate Summer Fruits. Today’s Dietitian. July 2015; 17(7): 20.
- Webb, Denise. Anthocyanins. Today’s Dietitian. March 2014; 16(3): 20.