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Wednesday 16 November 2016

Why Berries Are Among the Healthiest Foods on Earth

Franziska Spritzler has a BSc in nutrition and dietetics. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with expertise in carbohydrate-restricted diets for diabetes and weight management, she writes:
"Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat. They are delicious, nutritious and provide a number of impressive health benefits. Here are 11 good reasons to include berries in your diet. 

1. Berries Are Loaded With Antioxidants:
Berries contain antioxidants, which help keep free radicals under control.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur as a normal byproduct of metabolism. It’s important to have a small amount of free radicals in your body to help defend against bacteria and viruses.

However, free radicals can also damage your cells when present in excessive amounts. Antioxidants can help neutralize these compounds.

Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol. In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce the risk of disease.

One study showed that blueberries, blackberries and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits, next to pomegranates.

Bottom Line: Berries are high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which may protect cells from free radical damage.

2. Berries May Help Improve Blood Sugar and Insulin Response:
Berries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Test-tube and human studies suggest they may protect cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carb meals.

Importantly, these effects appear to occur in both healthy people and those withinsulin resistance.

In one study of healthy women, consuming 5 ounces (150 grams) of puréed strawberries or mixed berries with bread led to a 24–26% reduction in insulin levels, compared to consuming the bread alone.

Moreover, in a six-week study, obese, insulin-resistant people who consumed a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than the group who consumed smoothies without berries.

Bottom Line: Berries may improve blood sugar and insulin response when consumed with high-carb foods or when included in smoothies.

3. Berries Are High in Fiber:
Berries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Studies have shown that consuming soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness.

This may decrease your calorie intake and make weight management easier.

What’s more, fiber helps reduce the number of calories you absorb from mixed meals. One study found that doubling your fiber intake could help your body absorb up to 130 fewer calories per day.

In addition, the high fiber content of berries means that their digestible or net carb content low. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbs.

These are the carb and fiber counts per one-cup serving of berries:
Raspberries: 15 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber.
Blackberries: 15 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber.
Strawberries: 12 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
Blueberries: 21 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber.

Because of their low net carb content, berries are a low carb friendly food.

Bottom Line: Berries contain fiber, which may help decrease appetite, increase feelings of fullness and reduce the number of calories your body absorbs from mixed meals.

4. Berries Provide Many Nutrients:
Berries are low in calories and extremely nutritious. In addition to being high in antioxidants, they also contain several vitamins and minerals.

Berries, especially strawberries, are high in vitamin C. In fact, one cup of strawberries provides a whopping 150% of the RDI for vitamin C.

With the exception of vitamin C, all berries are fairly similar in terms of their vitamin and mineral contents.

Below is the nutrition content of a one-cup (144-gram) serving of blackberries:
Calories: 62.
Vitamin C: 50% of the RDI.
Manganese: 47% of the RDI.
Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI.
Copper: 12% of the RDI.
Folate: 9% of the RDI.

The calorie count for one cup of berries ranges from 49 for strawberries to 84 for blueberries, making berries some of the lowest-calorie fruits around.

Bottom Line: Berries are rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and manganese, yet low in calories.

5. The Antioxidants in Them Help Fight Inflammation:
Berries have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation is your body’s way of mounting a defense against infection or injury.

However, modern lifestyles often lead to excessive, sustained inflammation due to increased stress, inadequate physical activity and unhealthy food choices.

This type of chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the development of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among other diseases.

Bottom Line: Berries may help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

6. Berries May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels:
Berries are a heart-healthy food.

Bottom Line: Berries have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels and help protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized.

7. Berries May Be Good for Your Skin:
In addition to their many other health benefits, berries may help reduce skin wrinkling.

This makes sense, given that the antioxidants in berries help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to aging.

Bottom Line: Berries contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which may help decrease wrinkling and other signs of skin aging related to sun exposure.

8. Berry Antioxidants May Help Protect Against Cancer:
Several antioxidants in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol, may reduce the risk of cancer.

Specifically, animal and human studies suggest that berries may help protect against cancer of the esophagus, mouth, breast and colon.

Bottom Line: Berries have been shown to reduce markers associated with tumor growth in animals and people with several types of cancer.

9. Berries Can Be Enjoyed on Nearly All Types of Diets:

Fortunately, berries can be included in many kinds of diets. Although people on low-carb and ketogenic diets often avoid fruit, they can usually enjoy moderate amounts of berries. For example, a half-cup serving of blackberries or raspberries contains less than 4 grams of digestible carbs.

Liberal amounts of berries can be incorporated into the paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets.

For people who want to lose weight, the low calories in berries make them ideal to include in meals, snacks or desserts.

Organic and wild berries are now widely available in many parts of the world. When they are not in season, frozen berries can be purchased and thawed as needed.

The only people who need to avoid berries are those who require a low-fiber diet for certain digestive disorders, as well as individuals who are allergic to berries. Allergic reactions to strawberries are most common.

Bottom Line: Berries can be enjoyed on most diets because they are low in calories and carbs and widely available in fresh or frozen forms.

10. They May Help Keep Your Arteries Healthy:
In addition to lowering cholesterol, berries provide other benefits for heart health. One of these is better function of your arteries.

The cells that line your blood vessels are called endothelial cells. These cells help control blood pressure, keep blood from clotting and perform other important functions.

Excessive inflammation can damage them, inhibiting proper function. The term for this is endothelial dysfunction, and it’s a major risk factor for heart disease.

Berries have been shown to improve endothelial function in studies in healthy adults, individuals with metabolic syndrome and smokers.

Bottom Line: Berries have been found to improve arterial function in several studies of healthy people, those with metabolic syndrome and smokers.

11. Berries Are Delicious Alone or in Healthy Recipes:
Berries are undeniably delicious.

They make a wonderful snack or dessert, whether you use one type of berry or a mixture of two or more.

Although they are naturally sweet and require no additional sweetener, adding a bit of heavy (double) or whipped cream can transform them into a more elegant dessert.

For breakfast, try berries topped with either plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, along with some chopped nuts.

Another way to include berries in your diet is as part of a salad.

Arugula, berries and goat cheese salad with poppy seed dressing (vegetarian) see recipe here

Bottom Line: Berries are delicious when served alone, with cream or in healthy recipes.

Take Home Message:
Berries taste great, are highly nutritious and provide many health benefits.

By including them in your diet on a regular basis, you can improve your overall health in a very enjoyable way."

Franziska's full article with all information / research links is here

We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy.

Please note, not all may be suitable for you.

If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan


Jo said...

Many berries are easy to grow too, I have three blueberry plants in containers in the garden and they were laden with fruit this year. They don't need much looking after.

Christine said...

This is a great read, very informative. My diabetic husband also has great success with plums.

Summer said...

I love berries and love that they are so healthy ♥

Snowbird said...

What an informative post. That picture of the berries is just perfect!xxx

happyone said...

Very informative. I love berries.
Love the first picture, so very colorful.

Launna said...

Jan, I love berries, they are so tasty and healthy... if I could afford to eat them daily I would, there are so many great ones... raspberries are my favorite xox

Thank you for dropping by my blog... I am trying to catch up with everyone this week, it's keeping me busy.. xox

sandy said...

Love berries also - nice informative article, thanks Jan.

lotta joy said...

Eight weeks ago I became a vegetarian to get my cholesterol below 380 and my triglycerides below 400. I cut out gluten, and all simple carbs to lower my 300+ blood sugar even WITH insulin injections.

Sadly, my oatmeal causes catastrophic rises in my blood sugar - which its not supposed to do, and any kind of fruit does the same magic act. If it even has complex carbs, I'm unable to eat it.

Martha said...

So much good information. I love berries!

Carla from The River said...

Great post!! I learned several things I did not know.
Thank You for taking the time to share.

Carla from The River said...

I am pinning this, thank you!

Bob Bushell said...

Great series, all those berries.

sage said...

I love berries, but sadly the world has been designed so that local grown berries are not always available. I guess that's why God made freezers...

Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments here, it's always good to receive, read and share them.

Although fresh berries are great, it can be so handy to keep some frozen ones handy - especially helpful for those who may not have a good, and reasonably priced, selection of fresh ones available.

Christine said her diabetic husband can eat plums - that is good! My husband Eddie (a type 2 diabetic) can also tolerate them, and I do sometimes make this pork and plum casserole dish, see the recipe here:

Lotta joy said "Sadly, my oatmeal causes catastrophic rises in my blood sugar - which its not supposed to do, and any kind of fruit does the same magic act. If it even has complex carbs, I'm unable to eat it".
Yes, for a diabetic it is always important to eat foods that you, your body, can tolerate. With Eddie our menu plans are designed to keep his blood sugar levels to as near to that of a non diabetic ... in the eight years since he was diagnosed we have been able to do this by living the LCHF lifestyle and you may wish to read more about that here:
You also mention that you are a vegetarian - Diet Doctor site has quite a selection of different recipe ideas you may wish to look at. You can find them here:

Thanks to you all again

All the best Jan

Lisabella Russo said...

Wonderful information, I just bought some berries yesterday...