The Health Benefits of Berries
A delicious fruit that helps create a delicious brekky, snack or dessert; they don’t just add a pop of colour to a dish and sweet-tanginess but also are potent little health boosters! In this post, we talk about the health benefits of berries and show you how they are definitely a superfood!
While some berries are available in stores all year round, berries are seasonal fruit – meaning they’re fresh, more plentiful, less expensive and usually better tasting in season. In general berries are best when the weather is warm. Here in Queensland, they’re best in Spring and Summer (but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them in other months, just head to the frozen section).
- The antioxidants in berries can help your body fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals that can lead to illness. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help improve your health, protect your skin and hair, and prevent certain diseases. Studies show that strawberries may also help protect the brain with a powerful antioxidant capacity.
- Berries are generally low in carbohydrates and calories and high in water, fresh berries are a diabetes-friendly fruit that are also ideal for weight management.
- Blueberries – one of the few naturally blue-hued foods humans eat, blueberries are packed with antioxidant power, which comes from high levels of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid or plant compound. They also contain significant amounts of micronutrients and fibre. Research has shown that blueberries can help to improve insulin sensitivity in overweight people, and lower blood pressure levels in pre-diabetic people without raising blood sugar. The resveratrol found in blueberries, may also help prevent macular degeneration, a disease of the retina and the leading cause of blindness in people older than 65, according to vision researchers at Washington University School of Medicine.
- Raspberries – known to be a high-fibre powerhouse, raspberries also pack calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin K, all in one tiny berry! Due to their high anthocyanin content, they’re a great natural treatment for arthritis.
- Strawberries – the only fruit to flaunt its seeds on the outside, strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and K, potassium, dietary fibre, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, flavonoids (anthocyanins) and ellagic acid. Including strawberries in your diet, has shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, hyperglycemia and inflammation. Consider buying organic strawberries, as they’re known to be the most heavily with pesticide and other agricultural chemicals.
Selection & Storage Tips
- When buying, choose berries that are plump, tender and bright in colour.
- Blackberries and raspberries should be deeply coloured; blueberries should have a slight frosty-white hue.
- Skip blackberries and raspberries that have hulls attached – this is a sign of premature picking.
- Check all fruit for mould, and inspect containers for stickiness or stains. Remove and discard any that are mouldy or mushy so that the mould doesn’t spread to other berries.
- When picking through berries, discard damaged or mouldy ones.
- Unlike many other fruits, berries don’t ripen after picking, so they’re best eaten right away.
- For strawberries and blueberries, they can be kept in the fridge up to five days.
- For blackberries and raspberries, they’re best for up to three days.
- Berries are very delicate, don’t wash them til right before you use them, or they can break down and get mushy.
Getting more into your diet
- The Australian Dietary Guidelines define a serve of fruit as 150 grams, or around one cup, and recommend Australian adults eat two serves of fruit a day. Including berries in your breakfast and snacks is a great way to get the benefits of this nutritious fruit.
Here are some ideas to make sure you get enough berries in your diet:
- Fresh berries atop your cereal, oatmeal, ice cream or other dessert
- Berry pies
- Berries in a smoothie
- Fresh berries as a healthy snack
- Berries to make a delicious sauce, jam or
- In a salad