Benefits of Berries
It is summer time on Long Island, which means so much more fresh and local produce is now available!! One of the tastiest and healthiest fruits to choose from are delicious berries. These include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, açaí berries, gogi berries, etc.
Today we will be talking about all the amazing health benefits we can get from these delicious fruits. Research shows that they can help better cognitive functions, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as reduce the risk of cancer. These amazing health benefits are due to being a source of specific compounds and nutrients called anthocyanins, flavonols, vitamins, and fiber.
All berries are loaded with antioxidants, which help keep free radicals under control. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are beneficial in small amounts, but in high amounts can cause damage to cells and cause oxidative stress. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are found to have the highest amount of antioxidants. Vitamin C, quercetin ( a flavonoid), and manganese serve as antioxidants in the body. These along with anthocyanins (polyphenols) that give the berries their bright colors help to make them extremely powerful towards fighting chronic inflammation that can be caused by stress.
Berries are not only high in antioxidants, but many other nutrients as well. Strawberries are the one berry that is highest in Vitamin C, containing 250% of the RDI. Besides the Vitamin C, all the other berries are fairly similar in nutrients. These include manganese, copper, folate, and are low in overall calories.
Berries are also high in fiber, especially soluble fiber. Studies have shown that consuming high amounts of soluble fiber helps to slow the movement of food through the digestive tract, which further leads to reduced hunger and increased feeling of fullness. Overall, this may help to decrease total daily calorie intake and assist with weight management. Not only does fiber keep us full, but it also supports heart health, and lowers the risk of several chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
So how can we add these amazing fruits into our daily schedule? We can easily incorporate them into breakfast by adding them to our cereal, yogurt, smoothies, or bowls of oatmeal. We can even eat them as a snack with a handful of nuts, or as an after dinner snack for some extra fiber! Ask your registered dietitian for some recipes if you are unsure how to use them.
No matter what berries you choose, you can’t go wrong!! Start incorporating them today!
Until next time,
Katherine Ancona, MS, RDN, CDN