Why You Should Be Eating Berries

Monday, October 23, 2006 - 4:35pm

By Allison Stevens, MS, RD

Berries are incredibly nutritious. They are full of vitamins and minerals and are especially rich in fiber and vitamin C. On top of that, they have no fat and tout the lowest carbohydrate count of almost any fruit. More and more, research is showing that berries may help to slow down the aging process, boost immunity, and protect against chronic diseases and many cancers (see Berries: Do They Prevent Cancer). Different berries boast their own unique health benefits, so variety in your diet is important.

Health benefits of berries

Raspberries may help cancer prevention

These small, sweet, slightly tart berries contain large amounts of ellagic acid—a compound that studies show are potent for cancer prevention.

For further information on the benefits of eating berries for cancer prevention see the following article from TheDietChannel: Berries: Do They Prevent Cancer?

Strawberries are high in vitamin C

A handful of bright, red, juicy strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange! 

Blueberries help fight disease

Researchers analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables and found that blueberries had the highest level of antioxidants—powerful disease fighters that protect cells from free radicals which may cause diseases like cancer.

Cranberries for urinary tract infections

Aside from being a staple at the Thanksgiving table, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which are substances that stop bacteria from sticking in the urinary tract. They can prevent, or treat, urinary tract infections.

The health benefits of berries are not limited to those listed above. Berries come in a wide variety of favors, shapes and sizes, and have their own unique health benefits. Some of the more popular berries include Marionberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, chokeberries, currants, loganberries, boysenberries and many more! Snatch them up in the supermarket when you can, otherwise a trip to the local farmer’s market is often well worth the effort.

When to eat berries

Berries are delicious, fresh, and most plentiful in July, with the berry season spanning from May to August. However, frozen or dried berries—available year round—are often equally delicious and offer just as much nutrition (this is because the berries are frozen or dried at the fruit’s climax, preserving all the nutritious offerings).

A note of caution about jams and jellies—although they may contain berries, they are often high in calories due to added sugars, usually in the form of corn syrup. Read the ingredient label to make sure you are getting real fruit in your spread and opt for those with less added sugar.

Ideas for eating berries

No matter what variety or form of berry you choose, their versatility gives you endless opportunities to fit them into your diet. Here are just a few examples:

  • Throw some fresh blueberries on your cereal in the morning.
  • Dried cranberries are a sweet addition to any salad.
  • Use your favorite berries to make a great cobbler.
  • Make a snack mix with dried blueberries, nuts and cereal.
  • Layer mixed berries and whipped cream in a parfait glass for an elegant dessert.
  • Puree raspberries with olive oil for a sweet and tangy marinade for fish or poultry.
  • Sweeten oatmeal cookies with the addition of dried berries.
  • Mix blackberries into yogurt for a quick, healthy snack.
  • Add berries to muffins and pancakes for extra tempting breakfasts.

Fresh, dried, or frozen, berries are a sweet way to add nutrition to your diet!