Berries: The Best Superfood for Your Diet

It's berry season, so time to get out and start picking all those gorgeous red and blue-hued powerhouses.  Berries are a real superfood, packing more antioxidants and vitamins per punch than most other fruit and vegetables.  Read on for the benefits of each of these wonder foods and just why berries are so good for us.


Berries share many of the same benefits in varying proportions.  Overall, they are good for eye and heart health, useful in maintaining a healthy weight, and in helping to prevent cancer.

Fill your summer with as many strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries as you can to be brimming with health.  Just remember that it is better to eat them raw for all the amazing health advantages of berries to be most effective.

Strawberries

Whether you eat them from the punnet as a snack or concoct an elaborate dessert, strawberries are best eaten raw.  With high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants and phenolics, which are known to exert preventive activity against infectious and degenerative diseases, inflammation and allergies.

They also contain notable amounts of manganese and their strong red colour indicates their high concentration of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins.  These and other nutrients, such as potassium, combine to make strawberries helpful in preventing cancer, decreasing inflammation, and protecting the heart.  They are even implicated in promoting joint health.

Harvard Medical School recently found new evidence that strawberries are good for cardiovascular health.  The berries lowered the levels of protein known as C-reactive protein in participants' blood.  The presence of this protein indicates blood vessel inflammation, so lower blood levels indicated that the strawberries decreased blood vessel inflammation.

Strawberry recipes:

Pick Me Up Juice
Lara's Very Berry Cake
Stewed Fruit
100 Strawberry Recipes



Blueberries

Blueberries get their dark color from anthocyanins as well (they actually have more red than blue colouration).  Generally speaking, the more colourful the berry, the healthier it is, and blueberries are richly pigmented.  They are excellent sources of antioxidants, and are indicated in heart and eye health.

Due to their high lutein content, blueberries are said to help prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) too.  Blueberries are also said to help reduce the risk of age-related mental illness, such as dementia and Alzheimer's, so stock up!

While blueberries' antioxidant content puts them in the anti-cancer category, they are said to reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer specifically by almost half.  This is due to the presence of a flavonoid called kaempferol.  Like cranberries, blueberries also help fight urinary tract infections.

Blueberry recipes:

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry and Walnut Cake
Blueberry and Lemon Scones


Cherries

Related to plums, cherries contain iron in addition to vitamin A, phosphorous, calcium, and potassium.  Like strawberries, but even more so, cherries are good for the joints due to their anti-inflammatory properties.  Like all berries, they are rich in antioxidants.

Cherries contain melatonin, which helps induce a healthy sleep and preserve mental clarity.  They also support heart health by helping to reduce belly fat, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol.

Cherry recipes:

Cherry and Almond Tray Bake
The Ultimate Cherry Crumble
Cherry Bakewell Baked Oats
White Chocolate and Cherry Blondies


Raspberries

Once again, pretty colour makes for healthful eating.  Raspberries contain lots of manganese and vitamin C.  They also contain high amounts of ellagic acid, a polyphenol that is useful in preventing cancer and enhancing the immune system.

Raspberry recipes:

Chocolate, Beetroot & Raspberry Cupcakes
White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake
Blackberry and Raspberry Upside Down Cake


Blackberries

Available later in the summer, and best of all for free - just check your local hedgerows - blackberries are often overlooked in favour of the red cousins.  But these big, dark berries have many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, E, K and essential minerals like folate, calcium and manganese.

They are astringent in action, making them useful in treating diarrhea.  Their antioxidants fight cancer-causing free radicals even more so than their red counterparts, raspberries.

Blackberry recipes:

Smoky Beetroot Tart, Tiny Roasties and Sage & Onion Kale with Blackberry Sauce
Chocolate Roulade with Boozy Blackberries
Blackberry and Blueberry Cake


You may also like:

Mixed Berry Cheesecake
How to Freeze Fresh Fruit
9 Habits for Healthy Eating
How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Summer Fruits And Vegetables That Will Boost Your Health

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