You might have heard that eating a certain exotic berry will make you look like Halle Berry, but the truth is all berries are good for you.
You don’t have to import acai berries from South American swamps to attain good health. While exotic berries such as the acerola cherry or Aronia berry (chokeberry) do, no doubt, have their own special qualities, so do all berries.
However, nuances between berries are relatively minor compared to the overall profile of superfood berries, which includes all common berries, even those you can pick in your local fields. It’s the vitamins in berries, and the antioxidants, specifically, that give berries their superfood designation.
Only recently has significant medical research begun to be conducted on berries. Naturally, more research has been done on common berries than exotic berries.
Best Berries for Health? Take Your Pick
We’re finding out that just about every berry you can think of conveys health benefits, including:
Strawberries. There are plenty of vitamins in strawberries, including vitamins A, E, K, and C. Strawberries also are loaded with folate, a B vitamin important to women of childbearing age.
The vitamin C in strawberries is what the fruit probably is best known for. Just one serving of eight strawberries and you’ve had all the vitamin C you need for the day per USDA guidelines (and an extra 10%, too), according to the California Strawberries Council.
Raspberries. The raspberry plays a powerful role in reducing inflammation, but it only has been proven scientifically so in test tubes and laboratory animals.
A comprehensive review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition noted that cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease all “share critical metabolic, oxidative, and inflammatory links.”
Blueberries. Blueberries are best known for their high-fiber content and antioxidant strength. They have become a popular superfood among cancer patients.
The American Institute for Cancer Research lists blueberries among its “Foods That Fight Cancer.” The AICR arrived at its decision to add blueberries to the list based on “a systematic review of the global scientific literature.”
Specifically, AICR says blueberries, due to their high-fiber content, “convincingly” lower risk of developing colon-rectum cancer. The organization also states blueberries, as a fruit, lower risk of mouth, pharynx, and lung cancers.
AICR goes on to explain that blueberries may have important cell-protective abilities against carcinogens. In animal studies, blueberries have decreased “estrogen-induced mammary cancer and DNA damage.”
Blackberries. Blackberries have the most antioxidants of any berry ever tested, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Anthocyanin, which gives berries their color, also is a powerful antioxidant. Blackberries are black because they have such a whopping amount of anthocyanin. Berries with lesser amounts of anthocyanin are purple, red, or even yellow.
Cranberries. For years, cranberries have been the go-to among people wanting to “clean themselves out.” That’s because cranberries are known as an antiseptic and for their antibacterial properties. Using cranberry extract to treat and prevent urinary tract infection has been proven effective in some groups, according to research published in Advances in Nutrition, but always should be used in consultation with a doctor and antibiotics unless otherwise directed.
Elderberries. The elderberry, chock-full of antioxidants like all berries, is especially known for fighting off the cold and flu. In an interesting clinical trial of 312 overseas air travelers, elderberry did reduce the number of people who became ill as compared to placebo, but not by much. However, among those who did get sick, those on elderberry extract had significantly shorter durations of illness. The paper by Australian researchers appeared in the journal Nutrients.
Mulberries. Mulberries have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory. Like other berries, they are packed with anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant.
The mulberry also provides cardiovascular benefits by protecting heart cells that can be damaged by oxidation, according to a review published in the journal Traditional and Complementary Medicine. Some research on rats also has shown mulberries help restore livers damaged by alcoholism and other factors, according to the review.
Finally, in a study of rats with diabetes, mulberries were found to protect against erectile dysfunction. The research appeared in the journal International Urology and Nephrology.
Want to get some berries into your life? Try our Super Energizing Berries and Beet Smoothie for a little zing when you need it. Berries better your health no matter how you serve them.