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Reasons to eat berries

11 reasons berries rank highly among Earth's healthiest foods

Berries rank highly among the world's healthiest and most nutrient-rich foods. Here are 11 benefits to your health when you consume berries.

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11 reasons berries rank highly among Earth's healthiest foods
Last updated on December 12, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on October 3, 2023.

Berries are not only tasty but also packed with nutrients that offer multiple health advantages, especially for your heart and complexion.

11 reasons berries rank highly among Earth's healthiest foods

Counted among the healthiest food choices, berries are both flavorful and packed with health benefits.

Here’s why you should consider making berries a regular part of your meals.

1. Berries are full of antioxidants

Berries have antioxidants that help manage free radicals in our bodies.

Free radicals are molecules that, in high amounts, can harm our cells due to oxidative stress.

Berries offer antioxidants like anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol, which not only shield our cells but also might lower the chances of illnesses.

Research indicates that blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries top the chart in antioxidant activity among most fruits, only second to pomegranates.

Multiple studies have shown that berry antioxidants can effectively reduce oxidative stress.

One experiment with healthy men showed that consuming a single, 10-ounce (300-gram) serving of blueberries protected their DNA from free radical harm.

Another research found that when healthy individuals consumed 17 ounces (500 grams) of strawberry puree daily for a month, markers indicating oxidative damage dropped by 38%.

Summary: Berries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, protecting cells from the harm caused by free radicals.

2. Berries can aid in regulating blood sugar and insulin

Berries might help regulate your blood sugar and insulin.

Both lab and human tests show that berries can defend cells from elevated blood sugar, boost insulin sensitivity, and manage blood sugar and insulin reactions after carb-rich meals.

Interestingly, these benefits seem to apply to both healthy individuals and those with insulin challenges.

In a study with healthy women, consuming 5 ounces (150 grams) of mashed strawberries or a mix of berries alongside bread reduced insulin levels by 24-26% compared to just the bread.

Additionally, in a six-week research, obese participants with insulin issues who drank two blueberry smoothies daily saw more significant gains in insulin sensitivity than those who drank smoothies without berries.

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Summary: Berries can help control blood sugar and insulin levels when eaten with carb-rich meals or in drinks like smoothies.

3. Berries offer plenty of fiber

Berries are rich in fiber, particularly the soluble kind. Research indicates that soluble fiber slows the movement of food in our digestive system, which can decrease hunger and promote a feeling of fullness.

This could potentially help reduce the amount of food you eat, assisting in weight management.

Moreover, fiber can lessen the total calories you take in from various foods. One study noted that if you increase your fiber intake, you might consume up to 130 calories less every day.

Also, due to their significant fiber content, the actual digestible carbs in berries are relatively low. Here’s a breakdown of carbs and fiber for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of some popular berries:

It’s worth noting that the typical serving for berries is about 1 cup, which is roughly 4.4–5.3 ounces (125–150 grams), depending on the berry.

Given their low net carb content, berries are suitable for those on low-carb diets.

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Summary: Berries are rich in fiber that can help you feel full and possibly consume fewer calories from your meals.

4. Berries are packed with essential nutrients

Not only are berries low in calories, but they’re also nutrient-dense. Apart from their high antioxidant content, they boast a range of vitamins and minerals.

Strawberries, for instance, are abundant in vitamin C. A cup (150 grams) of strawberries offers an impressive 150% of your daily vitamin C requirement.

Besides vitamin C, most berries have similar vitamin and mineral profiles. Here’s the nutrient content for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of blackberries:

When comparing calories, a 3.5-ounce serving of berries ranges from 32 in strawberries to 57 in blueberries, marking them among the fruits with the fewest calories.

Summary: Berries are nutrient-dense and low in calories, boasting essential elements like vitamin C and manganese.

5. Berries combat inflammation

Berries possess notable anti-inflammatory effects.

Inflammation is a natural response in our body against potential threats like infections or injuries.

Yet, modern-day living can sometimes trigger prolonged inflammation due to factors like stress, lack of exercise, or poor dietary choices.

Chronic inflammation of this kind can lead to issues like diabetes, heart problems, and obesity.

Research suggests that the antioxidants in berries can help mitigate inflammation.

One particular study involving overweight individuals found that those who consumed a strawberry-infused drink along with a high-carb, high-fat meal had a more pronounced reduction in certain inflammatory indicators than participants who didn’t.

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Summary: Berries have properties that help reduce inflammation, which may lower the risk of heart ailments and other health concerns.

6. Berries can potentially reduce cholesterol

Berries, known for their heart-friendly properties, might be key players in reducing cholesterol.

Particularly, black raspberries and strawberries have demonstrated potential in decreasing cholesterol levels in those with obesity or metabolic syndrome.

In a study spanning 8 weeks, adults diagnosed with metabolic syndrome observed an 11% decrease in their LDL (bad) cholesterol when they consumed a drink made from freeze-dried strawberries daily.

Additionally, berries might play a role in stopping LDL cholesterol from undergoing oxidation or damage, a process closely linked to heart disease risk.

During a study with obese participants, those who consumed 1.5 ounces (50 grams) of freeze-dried blueberries over an 8-week period experienced a 28% reduction in their oxidized LDL levels.

Summary: Berries can aid in decreasing LDL cholesterol and prevent its oxidation, potentially decreasing heart disease risk.

7. Berries might benefit your skin

Berries might be a boon for skin health, especially in reducing signs of aging. Their antioxidant properties assist in neutralizing free radicals, major contributors to skin damage.

Ellagic acid, an antioxidant found in berries, is believed to offer several skin benefits. Preliminary studies indicate that this antioxidant might protect the skin by inhibiting enzymes that degrade collagen after sun exposure.

Collagen, an integral component of our skin, maintains its elasticity and firmness. Damage to collagen might lead to saggy skin and wrinkles.

A study that involved applying ellagic acid to the skin of hairless mice exposed to UV light for eight weeks found reduced inflammation and better protection against collagen damage.

Summary: The antioxidant ellagic acid in berries might help in reducing signs of aging, especially those caused by sun damage.

8. Berries may offer cancer protection

Certain antioxidants present in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol, might have anti-cancer properties.

Some studies involving both animals and humans indicate that berries might provide protective effects against cancers of the esophagus, mouth, breast, and colon.

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For instance, a study with 20 colon cancer patients found that consuming 2 ounces (60 grams) of freeze-dried raspberries for up to 9 weeks improved tumor markers in some, but not all, participants.

Furthermore, a test-tube study showed that all strawberry varieties, irrespective of their antioxidant levels, provided strong protective effects against liver cancer cells.

Summary: Berries might offer protective effects against certain cancer types, as evidenced by reductions in tumor growth markers in both animal and human studies.

9. Berries fit well in most eating plans

Berries are versatile enough to fit into a variety of diets.

Even if someone is on a low-carb or keto diet, which typically limits fruit, berries can often be included in small amounts.

Take, for instance, a half-cup of blackberries or raspberries. They have less than 4 grams of net carbs.

You’ll find berries in paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian, and vegan eating patterns.

Those aiming for weight loss can also benefit, as berries are low in calories. They’re great for meals, as a snack, or even as a dessert.

Nowadays, it’s easy to find organic and wild berries in many regions. If they’re off-season, there are always frozen options to turn to.

However, those with digestive issues requiring a low-fiber intake, or those allergic to berries, especially strawberries, should be cautious.

Summary: Most eating plans can accommodate berries because they’re low in carbs and calories and are easy to find both fresh and frozen.

10. Berries may promote arterial health

Beyond just reducing cholesterol, berries offer other heart-related perks, such as promoting healthy arteries.

Endothelial cells line your blood vessels. They play a key role in regulating blood pressure, preventing blood clots, and more.

If these cells undergo excessive inflammation, they might not work as they should, leading to what’s called endothelial dysfunction, a key concern for heart health.

Research shows that berries can boost endothelial function in various groups, from healthy adults to smokers and those with metabolic issues.

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In a specific study involving 44 people with metabolic syndrome, those drinking a blueberry smoothie daily experienced notable improvements in endothelial function, compared to others.

While fresh berries are the top choice, even processed forms, like baked berries, can offer heart benefits. However, while baking can reduce certain nutrients, like anthocyanins, the overall antioxidant value remains. Whether it’s baked or freeze-dried, berries can still enhance arterial health.

Summary: Multiple studies reveal that berries can boost artery health in various groups, including smokers and those with metabolic concerns.

11. Tasty by themselves or in health-conscious recipes

No one can deny the yummy nature of berries. Whether solo or mixed, they’re a delightful snack or dessert.

Even though they’re sweet on their own, a dash of heavy or whipped cream can elevate their appeal.

For morning meals, combine berries with plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta. Add a sprinkle of nuts for crunch.

Including berries in salads is another tasty option.

To explore the myriad ways to enjoy berries, a quick online search can yield tons of healthy recipe ideas.

Summary: Berries shine on their own, paired with cream, or featured in health-centric recipes.

Summary

Berries not only tantalize taste buds but are also packed with nutrients. Their health-boosting qualities extend to heart and skin benefits.

Regularly incorporating them into your meals can be a delightful way to enhance your health.

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