Delicious and nutritious, berries are among some of the healthiest foods that you can add to your diet, providing a number of health benefits.
Here are 11 good reasons to include berries in your diet:
1. Berries Are High in Antioxidants
Berries are high in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol which protect your cells and reduce the risk of disease.
The berries which have the highest antioxidant activity next to pomegranates are blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Several studies have shown that antioxidants in berries may help to reduce oxidative stress, making it an ideal addition especially to an athlete’s diet.
A single 300 – 500g portion of berries was found to protect against free radical damage.
2. Berries May Balance Blood Sugar and Improve Insulin Response
Berries may balance blood sugar and insulin levels in healthy people and those with insulin resistance. In a six week study, obese, insulin-resistant people who consumed a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than the group who consumed smoothies without berries.
3. Berries Are High in Fiber
Berries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness. This helps to decrease your calorie intake and makes weight-loss easier.
Berries are a low sugar, high fiber fruit. In one-cup of berries there are:
4. Berries Provide Many Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to being low in sugar and calories, berries are extremely nutritious. Strawberries are high in vitamin C. In fact, one cup of strawberries provides a whopping 150% of the RDI for vitamin C.
With the exception of vitamin C, all berries are fairly similar in terms of their vitamin and mineral contents.
5. Berries are Anti-inflammatory
Berries have anti-inflammatory qualities which help to decrease to the development of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among other diseases. They also help to speed up recovery in athletes caused from post-exercise soreness.
6. Berries May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Berries (especially black raspberries and strawberries) are a heart-healthy food which have been shown to lower cholesterol in obese people and those with metabolic syndrome.
When obese people consumed 1.5 ounces (50 grams) of freeze-dried blueberries for eight weeks, their oxidized LDL levels decreased by 28%.
7. Berries for Beautiful Skin
Berries may help reduce skin wrinkling. This makes sense, given that the antioxidants in berries help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to skin aging related to sun-damage.
8. Antioxidants in Berries May Protect Against Cancer
Several antioxidants in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol, may reduce the risk of cancer (esophagus, mouth, breast and colon). Berries have been shown to reduce markers associated with tumor growth in animals and people with several types of cancer.
In one study, 20 patients with colon cancer consumed 2 ounces (60 grams) of freeze-dried raspberries for 1–9 weeks. This treatment was found to improve tumor markers in some patients, although not in all.
9. Berries Keep Your Arteries Healthy
In addition to lowering cholesterol, berries provide other benefits for heart health. Berries have been found to improve arterial function in several studies of healthy people, those with metabolic syndrome and smokers
Berries make a wonderful, delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. Add them to your smoothie, health bars, healthy oat cookies or muffins, yogurt or snack on them with a handful of almonds.
Fresh berries are considered the healthiest, followed by frozen and freeze or sun-dried. Baked commercial berry products are considered processed and hence it is better to avoid them.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !