Blackberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries…whatever your taste buds crave, there is likely a delicious berry with low calories and high nutritional value that can benefit your health.
A diet enriched with an assortment of berries can help with weight loss and may even guard against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Here are five delicious berries that taste great and meet more of your body’s health requirements than you may realize:
- Strawberries. This classic berry possesses an impressive collection of health benefits that may help in fighting off chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammation and diabetes. According to a recent study, the strawberry may help increase HDL cholesterol (the “good” one) and lower blood pressure. Another study reports that strawberries may defend against breast and colon cancer. And did you know that half a cup of strawberries contains nearly all of your daily Vitamin C requirements? In fact, when compared ounce for ounce, strawberries are slightly higher in Vitamin C than oranges — and they have fewer calories. Strawberries are also low in saturated fat and sodium and plentiful in dietary fiber and manganese, an important nutrient for the body’s natural antioxidant system.
- Raspberries. From the Rosaceae family, the red raspberry is rich in fiber and antioxidants. The high levels of antioxidant compounds in raspberries may also play a role in preventing cancer, staving off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and slowing down the aging process. Still not sold on adding this berry into your diet? Consider this: 100 grams of berries contain 26.2 milligrams of Vitamin C.
- Blackberries. This is an ideal treat for people looking to lower their cholesterol. Low in calories and high in fiber, blackberries are also almost fat free. One cup of raw blackberries, or about 144 grams, is 62 calories, with one gram of fat and one milligram of sodium. Blackberries also have 7.6 grams of fiber. They are even good for your teeth. Blackberries contain compounds – gallic acid, rutin and ellagic acid—which have antiviral and antibacterial properties that help eliminate oral bacteria, according to an Oregon University study.
- Currants. This native European berry is high in protein. One cup of dried black currants makes up 39 percent of the recommended daily allotment of dietary fiber for an adult. Currants are also a great source for copper, manganese and potassium. Foods high in potassium (such as currants) may also help lower the risk of stroke, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
- Blueberries. Perhaps the second most popular berry to the strawberry, the blueberry actually beats out all other berries and vegetables when it comes to having the most antioxidants. The blue pigment in the berry, called anthocyanins, is the source of its antioxidant power. A study from the University of Michigan’s cardiovascular center suggests that the polyphenols in blueberries may even help to break down stomach fat.
Keep in mind that a healthy, well-rounded diet is fueled by nutrients found from various food groups. Make sure to include three or more servings of fruit in your daily diet. To help you visualize your healthy summer diet, consult my Pitcher of Health.
Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement.