Berries are so good for you and taste wonderful too! They offer some protection against cancer, they boost the immune system naturally and help nurture your liver and brain.
A study of nearly 100,000 men and women found that those who ate the most berries were way less likely to die of cardiovascular disease compared to those who ate the least.
Colourful foods are often healthier as they contain antioxidant pigments such as beta-carotene that makes carrots orange, lycopene that makes tomatoes red and anthocyanin pigments that give blueberries their characteristic hue.
Knowing that the colours in produce represent their antioxidant levels will help you next time you are at the grocery store or farmers market. Red onions, for example, have 76 per cent more antioxidants than white onions. Red cabbage can contain up to eight times more antioxidants than green cabbage. Are you seeing the theme?
So when you are shopping, look for the darkest green broccoli, the reddest strawberries and the deepest coloured tomato to maximize your dose of antioxidants.
Berries are second only to herbs and spices as the best food source of antioxidants. They average about 10 times more of these lifesaving substances than other fruits and veggies, and more than 50 times more than animal based foods!
I know you want to know what the best berries are — and the short answer is, the ones you like and will be happy to eat regularly.
Compared to bananas that have antioxidant power of about 40 units, strawberries come in at about 310 units per cup, cranberries at 330, raspberries at 350 and blueberries at 380, although wild blueberries can have twice that.
Blackberries have an amazing 650 units. I personally don’t love blackberries so I will get my daily serve (or two) by eating strawberries or using blueberries and other berries in a smoothie.
Now I can hear all of you diabetics out there, shaking your heads, saying you can’t eat fruit because of the fructose. Luckily for everyone, it is only fructose from added sugars that is associated with declining liver function, high blood pressure and weight gain.
Eating whole fruit has been shown to blunt the insulin spike from high-glycemic (processed foods) such as white bread.
Eating a piece of fruit with each meal is actually recommended as it will usually lower the blood sugar response, not raise it as was once thought.
Tart cherries are known to be good for inflammation and they are available canned with just cherries and water. These can be great in oatmeal with cocoa powder and palm sugar for a touch of sweetness.
Goji berries are another great source of antioxidants. They contain 50 times more zeaxanthin than egg yolks and may help people suffering from macular degeneration, without any of the saturated fat of eggs!
While fresh berries are wonderful to enjoy in summer, the benefits are almost the same from frozen berries which are readily available at any supermarket.
Berries are also easy to freeze at home, so there is no reason why you cant have a plentiful supply to enjoy in smoothies, on your oatmeal or just as lovely little frozen snacks all winter long.