Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables has been correlated with a reduced risk of various chronic diseases. And for good reason: they are low in calories and rich in nutrients. Berries, in particular, are a nutrition powerhouse. Many reasons exist to put berries on your shopping list and to cook with them.
Naturally low in calories, berries contain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, potassium, and calcium. The pigments that give berries their beautiful colors turn out to also contain polyphenols and antioxidants that are good for health. Fruits rich in phytonutrients are linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, strokes, and cancer in the people who eat them.
And there is more good for berry lovers. A study in Circulation found that berries may ward off heart disease in women.
Berries are also high in fiber which can aid digestion. One cup of raspberries, for instance, contains only 65 calories plus a healthy 8 grams of fiber. So feel free to fill up on them, guilt free. Pectin, one of the soluble fibers in berries, also has cholesterol lowering properties and contributes to heart health.
Berries are a terrific fruit group to include in the diet because of its high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, a measure of antioxidant capacity. Diets high in antioxidants are beneficial and help fight chronic diseases because they protect the body from free radicals associated with aging and inflammation, among other conditions. Blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries are among the foods that top the chart for containing the most antioxidants per serving. So feel free to enjoy these colorful jewels.
Berries—in particular, blueberries, cranberries, and mulberries—contain the polyphenol, resveratrol, associated with heart health, anticancer activity, and reduced inflammation. Berries known for their deep concentrated pigment contain the flavonoid, anthocyanins, which contain many health benefits which may help ward off diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries also contain the polyphenol antioxidant, ellagic acid, which seems to have some anti-cancer properties.
Good news for berry lovers. You can get them year round without worrying about price. While fresh berries eaten immediately after harvest are the best choice in obtaining essential nutrients, frozen berries are the next best thing and allow us to indulge year round. Berries frozen right after harvest preserve most of their nutrients making them a terrific and nutritious choice. I suggest keeping a bag of frozen berries in your freezer.
Here are some berry bites on 5 winners:
Blackberries top the chart for containing the most antioxidants per serving so put them on your shopping list.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and may benefit heart health and brain function associated with aging. Research suggests that consuming blueberries may keep your blood pressure in check.
Cranberries contain flavonoids which may protect against inflammation and may help prevent urinary tract infections. Furthermore, the procyandins found in this berry contains antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Raspberries contain the antioxidant quercetin which contains anti-inflammatory benefits and the phenolic compound, ellagic acid, and can help fight cancer. And even more good news: one cup contains only 65 calories and 8 grams fiber.
Strawberries are a terrific source of vitamin C; one cup of sliced strawberries contains more than a day’s worth of this antioxidant nutrient. A cup of strawberries also contains 3 grams dietary fiber and is low in calories (less than 50 calories per cup).
Berry tip: Beware of HYPE:
While the juice from the acai berry, for example, may be high in antioxidants, little evidence actually exists that it has special weight-loss or other powers, often touted on internet ads.