Whether they’re red, blue, filled with seeds, or crushed into a smoothie; berries have been hailed as a healthy superfood by scientists and consumers alike. And what’s not to love?
The whole berry family is packed with antioxidants. They are rich in nutrients that help to combat the health problems associated with aging, mental decline, and heart attacks.
Quite simply, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another great source of healthy goodness that comes in so many colors, flavors, textures, and sizes. The right berry for you is out there, no matter who you are!
In fact, the quest for them isn’t a just recent fascination—people have been seeking out these sweet gems for thousands of years. Tibetan settlers have used goji berries for close to 2,000 years, and the blueberry has been around for much longer than that.
However, with the advent of modern sweeteners, humans have let them fall by the wayside as a delicious dessert. Because they tend to taste bitter in comparison to the corn-syrup-filled treats we have today, they have been falling out of favor. Here are some great reasons to pack an extra serving of these delicious fruits onto your plate!
What are the Health Benefits of Dark Berries?
Berries help to clear toxins from your body. The acai berry is best known for this, but other dark fruits like blueberries and blackberries are good at capturing and flushing out toxins as well.
- Berries protect your cells from damage. Dark berries, especially blackberries, elderberries, and black currant contain large amounts of flavonoids called anthocyanins, which allow your cells to resist environmental toxins and remain healthy.
- Dark berries help prevent chronic inflammation. The antioxidants in blackberries in particular help to relax blood vessels and keep the blood flowing well. It’s when these vessels are inflamed that we see chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease. Because of their bioflavonoids, they also help to relieve the inflammatory pain associated with arthritis.
What are the Health Benefits of Light Berries?
- Berries seem to reduce the risk of heart attack and dementia. This study followed women who ate three or more servings of berries every week for 18 years and women who did not. The women who ate them were 32% less likely to suffer a heart attack. These same women also experienced slower mental decline as they got older, another study reports.
- Light berries, especially strawberries, promote bone health. Bones need potassium, vitamin K, and magnesium, and they have these nutrients in spades.
- Interestingly enough, research shows that freeze-dried berries may help prevent cancer! This study of patients with potential esophageal cancer experienced a significantly low rate of cancer when they were treated with strawberry powder. Cherries are also associated with this cancer-fighting benefit because of their quercetin, a flavonoid that is proving to be one of the most powerful known anticancer agents.
- Berries are great for helping you sleep. Because of berries—and cherries especially—contain melatonin, eating just a handful can improve your sleep patterns. Melatonin comes in pill form for people suffering from insomnia, but why not get that good right from nature? This nutrient in cherries absorbs into the blood quickly and will help to regulate your circadian rhythms—that internal clock that makes you get sleepy when it’s time for bed.
Are Frozen Berries Healthy?
Frozen berries enable us to eat berries (and benefit from the nutrient profile) year-round. Frozen berries are actually easier to throw into smoothies or even baked goodies like Paleo muffins. But are frozen berries as healthy as the fresh varieties of berries?
Actually, research has show that frozen blueberries might have a slight health edge over fresh blueberries when it comes to antioxidants. A study conducted at South Dakota State University revealed that freezing blueberries might make the antioxidants more bio available for the human body. Meaning that frozen blueberries might be easier for our bodies to absorb all of the wonderful antioxidants in berries.
Antioxidant compounds, anthocyanins, are found in the skin of the berry and makes blueberries their well-known blue color. Freezing the berries creates tiny ice crystals that disrupt the structure of the cells, and makes it easier for our system to utilize the anthocyanins in the berries.
Marin Plumb, the researcher of this study, exclaimed “[the berries] are equal in quality to fresh.”
The List of the Healthiest Berries:
- Goji Berries
- Acerola Cherries
- Acai Berries
- Maqui Berries
- Aronia (also known as black chokeberries—don’t eat them raw!)
- Noni Berries