They’re tiny, tasty and terrifically good for your health, protecting everything from your head to your heart. They’re generally high in antioxidants and it is even recommended to eat a serving of berries for a minimum of three times a week to protect your heart. They’re also low in calories and many people would consider their favourite fruit to be from this exotic family. That’s right, what else could we be talking about but berries?
Different Types of Berries
Blueberries are about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates. They are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables. Researchers suggest that anthocyanins, which are part of the flavonoid antioxidant compound, interact with other compounds in blueberries to increase heart health. Frozen blueberries are a great option when fresh berries are not in season because they are frozen at peak ripeness.
These red berries are rich in nutrients and were even enjoyed by the ancient Romans. One cup of sliced, fresh strawberries (166 grams) contains 53 calories, with 97.60 mg of vitamin C and 12.7 g of carbohydrates. Eating strawberries and other berries in general may even help prevent gastrointestinal and breast cancers. You can slice strawberries and sprinkle them over your oatmeal or your vegetable salad.
Each blackberry, when ripe, is made up of 15-20 druplets that are small, juice-filled and deep-purplish in colour. This makes blackberries more of an “aggregate fruit” than a berry. In an animal study, it was found that including blackberries regularly into your diet improved both motor and cognitive functions. Its anti-inflammatory properties may even offer natural protection against tooth infections.
They have a sweet flavour, but their tart undertone gives it a more subtle sweetness than strawberries. One cup of fresh raspberries contains 51% of your daily vitamin C intake. They’re also lower in sugar than other fruits, which makes them a great option when you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake. Moreover, researchers also found that eating more raspberries reduced the blood sugar level of people with a risk of diabetes.
5. Acai berries
Perhaps best known for being the essential part of an Instagrammable acai bowl, these dark-purple berries contain 19 amino acids and many antioxidants. They are one of the most recent foods to be touted as a “superfood”. It is believed that acai helps with weight loss and contains anthocyanins that have anticarcinogenic properties. The best way to consume acai berries is fresh in bowls without large amounts of sugar.
Due to their sharp and sour taste, cranberries are rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are enjoyed in the form of juices, sauces and dried fruit. However, some note that unsweetened, raw cranberries are the most rich in nutrients. They are low in sugar and help reduce large spikes in blood sugar levels. Cranberries also provide prebiotic fiber, which provides fuel to our body’s probiotics. This means the beneficial bacteria found in your GI tract called microbiome, the layer that serves as the first line of defence in our immune system.
How to pick and store berries
Berries need more care than your typical fruits. In general, berries are best eaten when the weather is warm because they come into season during the summer. When picking berries at the store, choose those that are plump and bright in colour. Avoid containers that are damp or stained, which may be a sign of overripe fruit.
- For strawberries and blueberries: Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- For blackberries and raspberries: Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Once you get back home, open the container to check if there are any moldy berries, because the mold can quickly spread to the other ones. Throw the moldy ones out.
- Don’t wash your berries until you plan to eat them. This is because seasonal berries tend to get moldy very quickly.
- Berries freeze well and can be used in smoothies or thawed for use in baking or sauces. Wash the berries and pat them dry. You can freeze them on a baking sheet and later transfer the frozen berries to a sealed plastic bag or container.