Everyone eats delicious berries at some point, but did you know how good they are for you? I eat them every week for lunch as my snack. Check out Franziska Spritzler, RD CDE article on the benefits of berries at Authority Nutrition.
Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat. They are delicious, nutritious and provide a number of impressive health benefits.
1. They 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. In fact, several studies have confirmed that the antioxidants in berries may help reduce oxidative stress. One study in healthy men found that consuming a single, 10-ounce (300-gram) portion of blueberries helped protect their DNA against free radical damage. In another study, when healthy people consumed 17 ounces (500 grams) of strawberry pulp every day for 30 days, one pro-oxidant marker decreased by 38%.
2. 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 with insulin 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.
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.
4. They 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:
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.
5. Antioxidants in berries 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. Inflammation in the body is measured by looking at changes in certain markers, such as IL-6 and CRP. Elevated levels of CRP have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Studies suggest that the antioxidants in berries may help lower these inflammatory markers. In one study, when overweight people consumed a strawberry beverage with a high-carb, high-fat meal, their IL-6 and CRP levels decreased significantly more than the group who consumed a beverage without strawberries.
6. May help lower cholesterol levels
Berries are a heart-healthy food. Black raspberries and strawberries have been shown to help lower cholesterol in obese people and those with metabolic syndrome. In one study, adults with metabolic syndrome who consumed a beverage made from freeze-dried strawberries daily for eight weeks experienced an 11% drop in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. What’s more, berries may help prevent LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized or damaged, which is believed to be a major risk factor for heart disease. In a controlled study, when obese people consumed 1.5 ounces (50 grams) of freeze-dried blueberries for eight weeks, their oxidized LDL levels decreased by 28%.
Consider adding these fruits to your daily regimen. Next time, I will give more benefits of eating berries.
I am with you and in your corner!