Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple. They’re sweet or sour in taste and are often used in preserves, jams, and desserts.
Berries tend to have an excellent nutritional profile. They’re typically high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant polyphenols.
As a result, incorporating berries into your diet may help prevent and reduce symptoms of many chronic diseases.
Here are 8 of the healthiest berries you can eat.
Blueberries are popular berries that serve as a great source of vitamin K.
One cup (148 grams) of blueberries provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 84
- Fiber: 3.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 16% of the daily value
- Vitamin K: 24% of the daily value
- Manganese: 22% of the daily value
Blueberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins from blueberries may reduce oxidative stress, lowering the risk of heart disease in healthy people and those at high risk for the condition.
In addition, blueberries may improve other aspects of heart health by:
- lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood
- reducing the risk of heart attack
- enhancing the function of arteries
Blueberries may lower the risk of diabetes as well. Studies have shown that blueberries or bioactive blueberry compounds can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%.
A large observational study has shown that people who eat blueberries also have slower rates of cognitive decline, meaning their brain remains healthier as they age.
However, more research is needed to determine the exact role blueberries play in brain health.
Summary: Blueberries contain good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant anthocyanins. Eating blueberries may help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Raspberries are often used in desserts and are a very good source of fiber.
One cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides:
- Calories: 64
- Fiber: 8 grams
- Vitamin C: 36% of the daily value
- Vitamin K: 8% of the daily value
- Manganese: 36% of the daily value
Raspberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can help reduce oxidative stress.
One study showed that when cyclists consumed a drink containing raspberries and other berries, oxidative stress caused by exercise decreased significantly.
The most commonly consumed raspberries are the American red or European red varieties. However, there are many different types of raspberries.
Black raspberries, for example, have been shown to have several health benefits. They may be especially good for heart health.
Studies have associated black raspberries with reduced risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
Other studies have shown that black raspberries may reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome.
However, these studies were very small. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of black raspberries.
Summary: Raspberries are full of fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Black raspberries, in particular, may benefit heart health.
3. Goji berries
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to China and used in traditional medicine. They have recently become very popular in the Western world.
One ounce (28 grams) of dried goji berries provides:
- Calories: 98
- Fiber: 3.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 15% of the daily value
- Vitamin A: 42% of the daily value
- Iron: 11% of the daily value
Goji berries also contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, which are essential for eye health.
One study of 150 older adults found that eating 14 grams of a proprietary milk-based formulation of goji berry daily reduced age-related decline in eye health. This study and a similar study suggested that eating goji berries could raise blood zeaxanthin levels.
Suggested read: 10 proven health benefits of blueberries
Like many other berries, goji berries contain antioxidant polyphenols. One study found that drinking goji berry juice for 30 days increased blood antioxidant levels of healthy older Chinese adults.
Another study found that drinking goji berry juice for two weeks increased metabolism and reduced waist size in people with overweight.
While these studies are promising, they’re relatively minor. So, more research is needed.
Summary: Goji berries are particularly rich in nutrients that contribute to eye health. They also contain essential antioxidants.
Strawberries are one of the most commonly consumed berries in the world and one of the best sources of vitamin C.
One cup (144 grams) of whole strawberries provides:
- Calories: 46
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 94% of the daily value
- Manganese: 24% of the daily value
Strawberries are good for heart health. A study of more than 93,000 women found that those who ate more than three servings of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of a heart attack.
Other studies have shown that strawberries may reduce the risk factors for heart disease, including blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress.
Strawberries can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Moreover, strawberries may help control blood sugar levels, vital for preventing diabetes.
A small study found that when people with overweight consumed strawberries with a high carbohydrate, moderate fat meal, they saw a reduction in insulin response.
Finally, another study showed that eating 2 ounces (60 grams) of freeze-dried strawberry powder per day reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory chemicals in people at risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Summary: Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They may also help reduce risk factors for heart disease and control blood sugar.
Bilberries are very similar to blueberries, so the two are often confused. Bilberries are native to Europe, whereas blueberries are native to North America.
One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of bilberries provides:
- Calories: 48
- Fiber: 2.8 grams
- Vitamin C: 49% of the daily value
- Manganese: 143% of the daily value
Scientific studies have suggested that bilberries are effective at reducing inflammation.
Some have suggested that eating bilberries or drinking bilberry juice can reduce inflammation in people at risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome.
Another study of 110 women found that eating bilberries for around one month reduced the endothelial markers connected with the development of heart disease. Bilberries were also associated with a reduced waist circumference by 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) and weight by 0.4 pounds (0.2 kg).
A separate study found that eating a diet rich in bilberries, whole grains, and fish reduced blood sugar in people with high blood sugar.
Bilberries may also increase HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Summary: Bilberries are similar to blueberries and effectively reduce inflammation. They may also help reduce weight and blood cholesterol.
6. Açaí berries
Açaí berries grow on açaíi palm trees native to the Brazilian Amazon region. They have become popular health food supplements because of their high antioxidant content.
One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of açaí berry puree provides:
- Calories: 60
- Fiber: 3 grams
Keep in mind that açaí berries are often consumed dried or freeze-dried, which can affect their nutritional content.
Açaí berries are one of the best sources of antioxidant polyphenols and may contain as much as ten times more antioxidants than blueberries.
When consumed as a juice or pulp, açaí berries can increase blood antioxidant levels and reduce chemicals involved in oxidative stress.
Additionally, açaí berry pulp has been shown to reduce blood sugar, insulin, and blood cholesterol levels in overweight adults who consume 200 grams per day for one month.
Suggested read: 5 impressive health benefits of acai berries
These effects have also been observed in athletes. In one study, drinking 3 ounces (100 ml) of an açaí juice blend for six weeks reduced blood cholesterol and oxidative stress after exercise, which may speed up recovery from muscle damage.
The antioxidants in açaí may also help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study of people with osteoarthritis found that drinking 4 ounces (120 ml) of açaí juice daily for 12 weeks significantly reduced pain and improved daily living.
Summary: Açaí berries contain high amounts of antioxidants, which may help reduce blood cholesterol, oxidative stress, and even the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Cranberries are an extremely healthy fruit with a tart taste. That’s why they’re rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are commonly consumed as juice or as cranberry sauce.
One cup (110 grams) of raw cranberries provides:
- Calories: 46
- Fiber: 3.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 16% of the daily value
- Manganese: 11% of the daily value
Like other berries, cranberries contain antioxidant polyphenols.
However, they’re primarily consumed as a beverage, and most of these antioxidants are lost in the process of turning them into juice. So, cranberry juice doesn’t contain as many polyphenols as raw cranberries.
The best-known health benefit of cranberries is their ability to help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Certain properties in cranberries prevent the bacteria E. coli from sticking to the bladder or urinary tract wall, reducing the risk of infection.
Several studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can reduce the risk of UTIs.
Cranberry juice may reduce the risk of other infections as well.
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers and gastric cancer. Many studies have shown that cranberry juice can prevent H. pylori from attaching to the stomach wall, help prevent infections, and act as a complementary treatment with antibiotics.
Cranberry juice has also shown various benefits for heart health. Many studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can reduce:
- blood pressure
- oxidative stress
- “stiffness” of arteries
However, it’s best to avoid varieties of cranberry juice with lots of added sugar and instead choose ones labeled as 100% juice.
Summary: Cranberries and cranberry juice can reduce the risk of the urinary tract and stomach infections and may benefit heart health. However, it’s best to avoid juices with lots of added sugar.
Grapes are widely consumed either as whole raw fruit or in the form of juice, wine, raisins, or vinegar.
One cup (151 grams) of whole raw grapes provides:
- Calories: 104
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 5% of the daily value
- Vitamin K: 18% of the daily value
The skin and seeds of grapes are an excellent source of antioxidant polyphenols. Studies have shown that grape seed polyphenol extracts can lower blood pressure and heart rate.
However, many of these studies were small. And other studies assert that the effect of polyphenols on blood pressure remains unclear.
A large observational study found that eating grapes or raisins three times per week was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another study found that eating 17 ounces (500 grams) of grapes daily for eight weeks reduced blood cholesterol and oxidative stress in people with high cholesterol.
Finally, grape juice may even benefit brain health. A small clinical trial of 25 women found that drinking 12 ounces (355 ml) of Concord grape juice every day for 12 weeks significantly improved memory and driving performance.
Summary: Grapes, particularly the seeds and skin, are full of antioxidants. They may help reduce blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes risk while benefiting brain health.
Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Suggested read: 20 healthy fruits that are super nutritious
Many berries have been associated with being beneficial for heart health. These include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol while reducing oxidative stress.
They may also help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and act as great alternatives to snacks with added sugar.
Try to eat a few portions of berries a week and sample different types. Add them to your salads or use them as a healthy breakfast topping.