Berries–whether they’re blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries or cranberries–are always on dietitians’ must-eat lists. They are truly superfoods for your health. Research shows that berries pack in more antioxidants than most of their fruit peers, which is thought to be why they help protect against heart disease, certain cancers, neurological decline and our constant battle against the bulge.
When researchers in Norway conducted a full evaluation of the plant-based foods (herbs and spices; nuts and seeds; fruits and veggies and grains) they found that berries ranked among the richest of all foods–on a per-serving basis.
[sws_blockquote align=”left” alignment=”alignleft” cite=”” quotestyles=”style03″] Of the top antioxidant foods, blackberries ranked the best with a score of 5.7/ serving; with strawberries at 3.6; cranberries, 3.1; raspberries, 2.9; and blueberries, 2.6. For comparison, red wine was 2.2; broccoli, .8 and oranges scored 1.2. [/sws_blockquote]
Berries contain a collection of naturally occurring phytochemicals including anthocyanins, which give berries their rich colors and which may be effective against raising harmful blood lipids. Some other their antioxidant phytonutrients may improve cognitive and motor function as we age and the unique proanthocyanidins in cranberries provide antibacterial-type properties. New research also shows that some anthocyanins present in berries may boost hormones that help increase fat burning and blunt hunger.
Eating berries several times a week can be one of the best things to do for your health. While berries may be best in the summer, you can find fresh domestically-grown strawberries most of the year and cranberries are harvested in the fall, and available through Christmas. Thanks to the new varieties of unsweetened frozen picks at my supermarket, I’m enjoying frozen raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries this winter. Freezing fruit at the peak of ripeness actually helps lock in nutrients and research shows that the beneficial phytonutrients survive freezing.
AFH’s Tips for Getting More Berries In Your Diet
- Use frozen berries instead of ice cubes when making smoothies
- Top whole-grain frozen toaster waffles with fresh berries
- Mix berries in to your yogurt or enjoy with your morning cereal
- Add dried berries to the top of your yogurt, trail mix or wild or brown rice side dish[/sws_green_box]