Including berries in your diet on a daily basis can be hard when the price of most berries is so high–unless of course you buy the “2 for” deal. But, the benefits of berries to your health could heavily out weigh the price tag. These low calorie and high fiber fruits are packed full of nutrients. In fact, one serving of strawberries contains about half of your daily requirements for vitamin C. One cup of strawberries contains more vitamin C than one orange, helping boost the immune system, prevent cancer and prevent wrinkle formation. Take that OJ!
The “B” in “berries” should stand for the B-Vitamins they’re jam packed with. These vitamins will help you stay energized on a long and busy day.
Two berries you should be familiar with are cranberries and blueberries. Besides the vitamin count, these berries offer some great overall health benefits. Cranberries contain important antibacterial elements that help the bladder and urinary tract guard against infection. Cranberries have even been linked to dental health. Buh-bye dental decay! (Check out the full story here.)
Now, the ever present blueberry should truly become ever present at your kitchen table. Although they are tiny, they are an antioxidant powerhouse! Blueberries carry 13,427 total antioxidants in one cup. Cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries also contain a large amount of antioxidants.
So what exactly do we mean by antioxidant and what’s the big deal? Antioxidants are important in protecting against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a sign of an imbalance in reactive oxygen species and the body’s ability to detoxify. This leads to the damage of a cell’s protein, fat and even DNA. Again, what does all that mean? The damage caused by oxidative stress is believed to be the number one reason for aging! Evidence shows oxidative stress can also lend to plaque formation causing heart disease and the damage done to the DNA can lead to tumor formation. If that’s not enough of an impact, oxidative stress is linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s.
Another great trait of berries, is the high level of potassium. This can help regulate blood pressure and prevent against heart disease.
Now before you go hog wild in the produce section of the grocery store, you may want to read this next section. Unless you can pick the berry in the wild yourself, frozen is the best way to go. Berries sold fresh in the supermarket are picked before they are ripe to prevent the berries from going bad before they reach the consumer; because of this, nutrients are lower. Frozen berries are picked when perfectly ripe and frozen immediately, maximizing nutrient content. When buying frozen, be sure to look for “without added sugar.”
Dried berries, such as craisins, or berry juices are okay options, but they contain less beneficial nutrients and more sugar due to processing.