5 Healthy Berries and Their Benefits

5 Healthy Berries and Their Benefits

A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit. Berries are typically juicy, rounded, brightly colored, sweet or sour, and do not have a stone or pit, although many pips or seeds may be present. Common examples are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, red currants, white currants and blackcurrants.

Berries are eaten worldwide and often used in jams, preserves, cakes, or pies but these usually contain high amounts of added sugar. They are so widely used because they are packed with flavor.

Berries are everywhere and are one of nature’s greatest superfoods but it is important to know your berries.

Not only are they packed with flavor but including them in our regular diet will almost always improve our health. While many berries are edible, some are poisonous to humans, such as deadly nightshade and pokeweed. Others, such as the white mulberry, red mulberry, and elderberry, are poisonous when unripe, but are edible when ripe. Others such as goji and maqui berries have been shown to negatively interact with certain medicines and health conditions.

Always talk to your doctor before ahead of time, especially if you regularly take medications. Some companies may say they have less side effects than medications but certain berries can negatively interact with medications that you’re currently taking.

Berries are extremely nutritious which is why they are a superfood. As with anything else, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your health. For example, one-fourth cup of goji berries fulfills 340 percent of your recommended vitamin A intake. Not limiting how much you consume can lead to vitamin A toxicity.

Berries Top the List of Beneficial Natural Foods

Health experts and advocates suggest that consuming natural, unprocessed foods are the best way to maintaining good health.

The Western pattern diet (WPD) or standard American diet (SAD) is a modern dietary pattern that is generally characterized by high intakes of red meat, processed meat, pre-packaged foods, butter, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, eggs, refined grains, potatoes, corn (and High-fructose corn syrup) and high-sugar drinks.

By contrast, a healthy diet has higher proportions of unprocessed fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole-grain foods, poultry, and fish.

Most health experts agree that as the amount of processed food in our diets has increased our overall health decreased. Good health is 80% what you eat and 20% what you do. Because of this, one of the most effective ways to maintain or improve your health and fitness level is to focus on eating natural, unprocessed food.

One of the most plentiful and unprocessed foods available are berries. There are hundreds of different species of berry, each packed with an assortment of nutrients and antioxidants. This list explores easily obtainable berries that should be a regular part of your diet.

Infographic - 5 Healthy Berries and Their Benefits - Parish Lantern

Acai Berry

The acai berry is an inch-long, reddish-purple fruit touted as a superfood with anti-aging and weight loss properties. It comes from the acai palm tree, which is native to Central and South America.

Some studies show that acai fruit pulp is even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries. It is these free radicals that can cause a very high amount of damage to the human system. Acai berries work by eliminating free radicals and thus improving the body’s overall health. Whether or not acai berries add any extra kick to weight loss plans remains to be seen

While more research is needed, acai has been shown to promote anti-aging, improve stamina and mental health, and help control diabetes and blood pressure.

Acai has a short shelf life so you will usually find it frozen at your local grocery store. It has been indicated that acai pulp is better for you than acai juice but both are well-absorbed in the gut.

Maqui Berry

Maqui Berries are small fruits that come from the Chilean wineberry, a tree species native to the rainforests of Chile and adjacent regions of southern Argentina. Most of these commercially marketed fruits come from the wild although some are cultivated in private gardens.

Although maqui berries have lower antioxidant content than acai berries they provide a high level of monounsaturated fats, dietary fibers, and plant sterols which have shown to provide health benefits related to heart function and digestion

Goji Berry

The goji berry, also known as the wolfberry, is found in Tibet and Nepal where it is has been used as a medicinal plant. Traditionally,  people used goji berries to treat eye, liver, and kidney ailments.

These bright red berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals like amino acids, Vitamin A and C, zinc, iron and fiber. They have a sweet, slightly-sour taste and often come dried like deep-red raisins. Their color is in part due to the presence of beta carotene, which is a precursor for vitamin A.

Goji berries have been said to have many health benefits such as boosting the immune system, providing flu protection, aiding in weight loss, maintaining healthy blood sugar, and increasing testosterone. However, research has been inconclusive and more research is necessary.

Blueberry

Blueberries have a very large range across North America and Europe and are popular all over the world. This popularity is in no small part because of their wonderful flavor and health benefits.

Blueberries have been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer, and can also help maintain bone strength, mental health, and healthful blood pressure and are known for their very high antioxidant content.

The berries get their blue color because of the high amount of plant nutrients present in them, which are known as anthocyanidins. These natural ingredients are responsible for the natural antioxidant action of the berries.

The blueberry also help repair muscle damage and reduce inflammation that takes place in the body. Its high antioxidant content eliminates free radical action and keeps the body in its highest state of functioning at all times. This has recently led to a great deal of scientific and medical interest which has elevated the blueberry to its current popularity.

Cranberry

When you think of cranberries the first thing that comes to mind is either Thanksgiving or urinary tract infections. Hmmm Thanksgiving. A lot of people’s first thought is cranberry juice and how it helps prevent urinary tract infections.

That’s because cranberries are loaded with an antioxidant called proanthocyanidins, or PACs for short. As it turns out, chemicals present in cranberries — and not the acidity of cranberry juice, as previously thought — prevent infection-causing bacteria from attaching to the cells that line the urinary tract.

In addition to UTI prevention, the same chemicals help prevent periodontal disease because of their antimicrobial, antiadhesion, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eating whole, natural cranberries is the best way to maximize nutritional and antioxidant intake. If the tart taste is too much for your palette, make sure to avoid loading them down with sugar. Instead try mixing 100 percent orange juice or other whole fruits to counter the tartness.

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