If someone offers you a pill for weight loss or to prevent vision loss such as that caused by macular degeneration, you would take it right? Well no need for pills, just hop on over to your local grocery store and load up on fresh or frozen berries. Berries contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring nutrients in our bodies that help protect cells from cell damage (oxidative stress) caused by free radicals. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help improve your health, protect your skin and hair, and prevent certain diseases. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, but nutrient-rich berries are some of the absolute best sources. Some of the best sources of these health benefits are Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Boysenberries, Cranberries and Blueberries.
There are several powerful antioxidants that appear in berries, including anthocyanins, quercetin, and vitamin C. Anthocyanins give berries their vibrant color, reduce inflammation, and may help prevent and manage arthritis. Anthocyanins work together with quercetin to help slow age-related memory-loss. Quercetin can also decrease the inflammatory effects of chemicals in the synovial fluid of the joints for people with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Studies have shown that woman who eat two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries a week experienced less mental decline over time than peers who did not consume berries. Berries are also able to be included in diets of those suffering with diabetes. While they are a “sweet” fruit, they contain a high level of fiber which can be useful in diabetic diets. They can count as a serving of fruit. Its always better to eat fresh berries than those that have been processed or used in a pie or muffin.
People who eat at least two servings of berries a week have a 25 percent less chance of developing Parkinson’s disease than their peers, according to research published in the journal Neurology. The same research showed that men with the highest intake of flavonoids — which are abundant in berries — reduced their risk by 40 percent. Flavonoids are being studied to help ward off certain types of cancer. Research published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis suggests that flavonoids and other compounds found in berries may help reduce colon cancer risk. Besides eating them plain, you can also get your berry servings by adding them fresh or frozen to other high-nutrition foods such as yogurt, oatmeal, and salads.
Vitamin C is another strong antioxidant found in berries. It is largely responsible for the health of collagen, which helps maintain cartilage stores and aids in joint flexibility. Eating vitamin C–rich berries will contribute to radiant skin and healthy hair, and may reduce the risk of arthritis, high blood pressure, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
In addition to antioxidants, berries are “juicy foods,” which means they contain mostly water. Juicy foods are great for losing weight because they fill you up quickly, since their high water content bumps up the volume while driving down the calories. Berries also contain fiber and folate. Fiber aids in weight loss and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Folate may protect against cardiovascular disease and age-related memory loss, and since folate contributes to the production of serotonin, it may also help ward off depression and improve your mood. IBS sufferers take note: Some people with IBS experience discomfort after eating berries. People with a strong inherited risk for heart disease may find that a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, including berries, can reduce their chances of having a heart attack, according to a study published in PLoS Medicine.
Remember, if you can’t find fresh berries, frozen (unsweetened) berries are a good substitute during the off-season months — and just as nutritious!