In season now, berries are not only delicious, but they are also jam-packed with healthy compounds that protect your longevity. Bursting with antioxidants and nutrients, these juicy jewels are always under the research spotlight for their countless health benefits. Low in calories but super high in flavor and flavonoids, berries are the ultimate superfoods, so enjoy them all summer long!
Blueberries: Brain Power
The blueberry is among the fruits with the highest level of antioxidant activity, helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers and bringing anti-aging benefits. Blueberries have neuroprotective properties that can delay the onset of age-related memory loss by shielding brain cells from damage by chemicals, plaque, or trauma. Some evidence suggests that antioxidant-rich blueberries may also alter how our bodies metabolize and store sugar for energy, by reducing belly fat. This translates to a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as a step closer to a beach body! These tangy little blue gems can be enjoyed dried, frozen, or fresh.
Strawberries: Heart Protector
The fragrance and deep red color of strawberries are enough to make your mouth water! Not only can they brighten up your meal, they can combat free radicals, fight inflammation, and help regulate blood sugar. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids and phenolic acids, which all contribute to making this bright berry a nutrition super star! Consuming one cup of strawberries several times a week may lower the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, a risk factor in heart disease. To add to its already high nutrient profile, just one cup provides you with over 140% of the daily value of vitamin C, and only about 50 calories. Enjoy them as a snack, sliced into salads, yogurt or blended into your favorite smoothie.
Keep in mind, strawberries are among the so-called “Dirty Dozen”, the top 12 foods that are the highest in pesticides. Therefore, it is best to consume organically grown strawberries to limit pesticide-associated health risks.
Blackberries and Raspberries: Full of Fiber
Blackberries have been popular in Europe for over 2,000 years, used for eating, medicinal purposes and as hedges to keep out intruders. Often called “brambles”, blackberries and raspberries are members of the Rosaceae family and closely related to the strawberry. Brambles have a characteristic aggregate fruit structure, which means they are formed by the aggregation of several smaller fruits. It is this structure that is responsible for the blackberry and raspberry’s nutritional value, because it increases the proportion of dietary fiber. In fact, both the blackberry (7.4 grams of fiber per serving) and the raspberry (8 grams of fiber per serving) are exceptional sources of fiber. What is so beneficial about fiber? Fiber helps dispel gastrointestinal disorders, lowers cholesterol levels, reduces risk of colon cancer, and supports weight loss.