They come in a rainbow of colors and have a natural sweetness that entices the taste buds. Berries not only deliver on taste, but they’re surprisingly good for you. Discover some of the health benefits of berries and some easy ways to add more of them to your diet.
Health Benefits of Berries: What Makes Them So Special?
Like more fruits, berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals. A cup of strawberries has almost as much vitamin C as a cup of orange juice. But what makes them so special are the flavonoids they contain. It’s these powerful chemicals that give berries their rich hue. Have you ever looked at a blueberry and wondered where it gets its brilliant blue color? That intense blue comes from anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid with powerful health properties.
The anthocyanins that are so abundant in blueberries are important for brain health. One study showed that rats that munched on flavonoid-rich berries had fewer old age memory problems. Some research even suggests that the anthocyanins in berries help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. A human study found that adults who ate the most flavonoid-rich foods were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Berries, especially blueberries, deserve their reputation for being brain foods.
Other Health Benefits of Eating Berries
They’re good for your brain, but berries may also be good for your belly. Researchers gave rats a blueberry powder in an amount equivalent to two ounces of blueberries a day to eat along with their regular diet. Even though they ate a high-fat diet, the rats that got the blueberry powder lost belly fat. In addition, their cholesterol and triglyceride levels went down. Why the drop in belly fat? Researchers believe the anthocyanins abundant in blueberries block the synthesis of belly fat. How’s that for a natural fat blocker?
Berries are also low in calories and are lower in natural sugars than other fruits. That means they’re a good choice for weight watchers and diabetics. Strawberries are one of the lowest calorie berries with only 50 calories in a full cup. That’s a naturally sweet deal. Berries are also a good source of heart-healthy fiber and a satisfying substitute for less healthy desserts. A bowl of berries with a dollop of light whipped cream tastes decadent but isn’t.
How to Add More Berries to Your Diet
Add a sprinkling of berries to hot or cold cereal in the morning or puree them with yogurt to make a satisfying breakfast smoothie. Layer them with yogurt for a quick breakfast parfait. Add them to salads for a burst of color and additional antioxidant power. Use berry purees to make cold soups, healthy salad dressings or put them in a popsicle mold to make guilt-free popsicles that taste as satisfying as more decadent desserts.
The Bottom Line?
Next time you’re cruising down the produce aisle, think berries. They’re low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants that keep cells and organs like your brain healthy – and they taste pretty sweet too.
Nutraingredients-USA.com. “Blueberry Flavonoids Could Have Alzheimer’s Benefits”
Eurekalert.org. “Eating Berries May Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease”
Nutraingredients website. “Berries Cut Type 2 Diabetes and CVD Risk, Claims New Research”
J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):935-42.