It is hard to keep track of what the experts recommend as the best foods to eat (or avoid) for optimal health. It seems as if one day they are touting the benefits of one health food and maligning it the next. One health food that almost everyone can agree upon are berries.
Whether your favorite berry is a strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, or blackberry, all berries have wonderful benefits for your health in addition to tasting delicious.
According to WebMD, “Just one cup of berries provides all the disease-fighting antioxidants you need in a single day.” In fact, berries provide more antioxidants per calorie than almost any other food. Antioxidants help the body fight against free radicals that may contribute to heart disease, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants can also help you improve the health and look of your skin. WebMD also noted that many dermatologists believe that antioxidants can help prevent wrinkle damage caused by free radicals.
Fiber is essential to a healthy body. Experts recommend that you get 25-30 grams of fiber in your diet daily. Most Americans consume just 15 grams per day, falling far short of the recommended amount. The Mayo Clinic notes that fiber isn’t absorbed by your body the way other food components are. It passes through your digestive system relatively intact. The benefits of increasing your fiber intake are many:
- Normalized bowel movements
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
Berries help you increase the fiber in your diet without a lot of extra calories. A 1 cup serving of blueberries, for example, has 3.6 grams of fiber and only 85 calories. Raspberries are even better with a 1 cup serving providing 8 grams of fiber and only 65 calories.
Studies from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University on the benefits of berries for brain health have shown that not only do the antioxidants provide protection from cognitive decline, but that “berry fruits also change the way that neurons in the brain communicate, and this may prevent inflammation in the brain that can damage neurons.”
With more people living longer than ever today and an increased focus on the quality of those years, adding berries to your diet can help you ensure that you remain as healthy and mentally sharp throughout your life as possible.
A study led by Dr. Eric Rimm from Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School indicated that eating more strawberries and blueberries may be a way to protect your heart. Dr. Rimm’s study showed that those participants who had the lowest intake of blueberries and strawberries were at an increased risk of heart attack.
Blueberries and strawberries, in particular, are high in anthocyanins. These compounds can lower blood pressure and keep vessels healthy and pliable.
To get the most heart protective benefit from eating berries, Dr. Rimm suggests a minimum intake of 3 servings, 1/2 cup each, of strawberries and blueberries each week.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Berries are low in sugar and low on the glycemic index. Diabetes Self Management reported that studies have shown that consuming 2-3 servings of strawberries a week can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association even lists berries in their top 10 list of super foods that everyone should eat.
Adding Berries to Your Diet
It’s easy to realize the impressive health benefits of berries by adding them to your diet several times per week. Berries are versatile, portable, and tasty. Try adding them to your smoothie or cereal for breakfast. You could also mix them with yogurt for a healthy snack. Or enjoy a bowl of mixed berries with your lunch or dinner. The options for including berries in your diet are as endless as the health benefits you will receive.