Fruits are among the healthiest foods you can include in your diet. Berries, in particular, have served as a valuable food source, way before the agricultural period. In ancient Roman, berries were thought to have medicinal properties, and today they remain as a primary food source for primates as well as humans. They are delicious, nutritious and they provide a number of health benefits.
So what are the benefits of berries and what are some of the most beneficial berries to take?
We shall first look at the benefits of berries.
- Low in calories
Berries are low in calories, which makes them a healthier alternative to sugary snacks. Aside from this berries can be incorporated in different meals and diets guaranteeing that you can always reap their benefits from different food sources.
On the other hand, instead of snacking on sugary foods whenever you have a craving, you can have berries which reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
2. High in fibre
Berries are said to make weight management easier since they are low in calories. However, the high fibre content found in berries also contributes to this fact. Berries are a good source of soluble fibre which slows digestion thus causing you to stay full for longer periods. Since you will not be feeling hungry, this reduces snacking habits and your appetite stays intact.
The high fibre content in berries also helps the body to absorb fewer calories from other meals, hence aiding in weight loss.
3. High in antioxidants
The human body contains antioxidants, while some are found in certain foods. These antioxidants play a critical role in defending the cells against free radicals which if not balanced lead to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress damages proteins, cells, DNA and plays a role in the development of different health issues, like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Eating berries counteracts these free radicals and thus keeping your body in a healthy condition. Additionally, the different antioxidants found in berries including polyphenols, ellagic acid, anthocyanins and resveratrol play a role in lowering the risk of getting cancer.
4. Highly nutritious
Like many fruits, berries are packed with healthy nutrients and vitamins that are beneficial to the body. Berries like blueberries are rich in Vitamin C and you are sure to get more than your daily dose of vitamin c from a cup of strawberries. Different berries might contain different nutrients and minerals but generally, the contents are fairly similar. Other nutrients found in berries, aside from vitamin C include, potassium, manganese, copper and vitamin K1 (found in blackberries) all contribute to normal body functioning. Lifestyle: The Health Benefits Of Vitamin C, Food Sources And Its Benefits In Fighting COVID-19
5. Improves the skin
Due to the contents of vitamin C and antioxidants found in berries, regular consumption of berries could yield a tremendous improvement on the appearance of your skin.
Vitamin C brightens the skin, promotes cell synthesis which reduces ageing while the antioxidants in berries control signs oxidative stress and wrinkling. Find out more benefits of Vitamin C
6. Lower cholesterol
Berries lower LDL cholesterol levels and prevent it from being oxidised. If LDL also known as bad cholesterol is oxidised, it changes to plaque and blocks the arteries. Hence, by taking raspberries or strawberries, you lower cholesterol levels, prevent the LDL cholesterol from being oxidised and hence reducing the risk of heart disease.
7. Improve heart health
Berries are known to lower cholesterol levels, contributing to good heart health. Additionally, berries reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing endothelial dysfunction often caused by excessive inflammation.
Proper endothelial functioning happens when the cells that line the blood vessels – also known as endothelial cells – control blood pressure effectively, prevent the blood from clotting and perform other body functions. Thus intake of fresh or baked berries promotes normal functioning of the endothelial cells improving arterial functioning and general heart health.
Berries to take
As mentioned, berries are nutritious and a great source of vitamin C, dietary fibre and anti-oxidants. They are also low in calories, which makes them a great addition to your diet. So which kind of berries should you add in your diet.
Raspberries – Although not classified as berries (argue with science) raspberries are high in dietary fibre, antioxidants, manganese and vitamin C. Aside from having antioxidants, black raspberries contain anti-inflammatory properties that have shown to suppress different cancers. Raspberries also contain anthocyanins, which combat inflammation and oxidative stress.
Goji berries – These are dried fruits and have been used as part of traditional medicine by the Chinese, for 2000 years. They are highly packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins and research shows that they’re capable of raising blood antioxidants. Having antioxidants in the blood reduces the risks of getting cancer, heart diseases and combats skin ageing. Goji berries also promote eye health, healthy skin and prevent liver damage.
Strawberries – Rich in vitamin C and packed with anthocyanins, hence the red colour. Studies have shown that eating 500 grams of strawberry pulp each day for a month, provides antioxidants that can reduce pro-oxidants by 38%. Urban Farming: Here Is How To Grow Organic Strawberries In Your Backyard And Keep On Harvesting For Up To Three Years
Blueberries – Low in calories, richest in antioxidants levels and contain an antioxidant known as anthocyanins, which reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure and lowers risk for heart disease
Acai berries are also known as superfoods, due to their high content of the antioxidant anthocyanins. Due to this property and other nutritional benefits, Acai berries are consumed for weight management purposes, eye problems, heart problems and of course as a rich source of vitamin C.
Grapes – also known as true berries, and commonly used to make wine/juice, grapes are rich in potassium which is a mineral that balances fluids in your body. Potassium brings down high blood pressure thus lowering the risk of strokes and other heart problems. Grapes are also good for aiding weight loss, promoting good skin and hair, protecting the brain, the eye, boosting the immune system and improving sleep quality.
Cranberries – Often consumed in form of juice or in mocktails. Cranberries, like other berries, contain antioxidants. However, since the antioxidants are found on the skin, yet cranberries are rarely eaten raw, this affects the levels of antioxidants in the fruit. Even though cranberries contain fewer antioxidants compared to other berries, they are best for treating urinary tract infections, stomach infections and H.pylori which leads to ulcers and cancer. Many studies have also shown that cranberries can reduce the risk of cancer, blood pressure and heart problems.
Gooseberries – These tiny highly nutritious fruits are packed with different nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin B5, B6, fibre, copper, manganese and potassium. They are packed with antioxidants and therefore provide the aforementioned health benefits to the human body.
Botanically speaking bananas alongside other fruits such as currants, tomatoes, Avocados, Kiwi, Guavas, peppers and eggplants are also classified as berries. Therefore when the aforementioned berries are not available you can take comfort knowing that you’re getting the needed nutrients from these other options.