We’d be willing to bet just about anything that you could do with eating more berries.
We don’t care how healthy you think your diet is right now, or how much fruit you eat. We’ve never met anybody who we think wouldn’t benefit from getting more berries down their throats each day.
Berries are perhaps the most nutritious, healthful kind of fruit that you can eat. A high consumption of berries is closely correlated with a wide range of health benefits, from lower incidence of certain diseases to better metabolic efficiency.
When combined with other dietary interventions – such as fasting – a high-berry diet can work wonders for your overall health and longevity.
So what makes these particular fruits so beneficial for health?
Do different berries do different things?
Which types of berry should you be focusing on?
Let’s try to answer those questions together!
What Makes Berries So Healthy?
Everybody knows that berries are a fantastically healthy food. We’re constantly told that we should try to get more into our diets; and indeed we should.
But what is it that makes them so healthy?
Why berries and not – say – bananas?
Well, for starters, berries are extremely dense in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules which prevent oxidative stress by removing free radicals from the body.
Free radicals are uncharged molecules which readily react with your body’s cells.
We need these free radicals to kill bacteria and carry out other vital bodily functions. However, when we’re exposed to pollutants, toxic substances, and so on, free radical levels can quickly rise. This causes excessive amounts of oxidative damage to cells, which in turn increases the risk of developing a host of different diseases.
Berries have been found to contain an enormous amount of antioxidants. In this trial, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries have the greatest cellular antioxidant activity levels of all the examined fruits (with melons and bananas having the lowest).
Berries of all kinds also provide large quantities of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are organic chemicals thought to possess a range of properties that make them highly beneficial to human health. As this paper notes, several long-term, robust studies have found that diets rich in plant polyphenols may help protect against the development of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The research is far from conclusive here of course, and nobody is suggesting that eating lots of berries will prevent cancer. It is far too complex a disease for anyone to say that. But it does seem that people who eat diets rich in polyphenols tend to have lower incidence rates of certain diseases.
Berries are also jam-packed full of vitamins.
For example, just 100g of strawberries is enough to give you 100% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. A cup of raspberries will give you 43% of your RDI of Vitamin C and over 30% of your RDI of manganese.
Of course, the icing on the cake is that you are getting all of these antioxidant, vitamins, and minerals along with a hefty serving of dietary fiber.
That same cup of raspberries that gave you almost half of your RDI of Vitamin C will also give you 30% of your RDI of fiber. 100g of blackberries will not only give you 35% of your RDI of vitamin C, but about 20% of your RDI of fiber as well.
What About All That Sugar?!
With all these health benefits, isn’t it obvious that we should be eating lots of berries?
Is it really so controversial to say that you should try to fit an extra cup of berries into your diet?
Surprisingly, yes it is. A lot of people are averse to the idea of eating more berries.
The most common reason given is sugar.
Like most fruits, berries have a very high sugar content.
Blueberries, for example, are 10% sugar by weight, and much of the rest is water! By anyone’s measure, that’s a lot of sugar. Eating 100g of blueberries will give you 10g of sugar. Adding them to your cereal and eating that with milk will give you a pretty massive dose of sugar right at the start of your day.
Understandably, a lot of people don’t like the sound of that!
However, we think that their concerns are misplaced.
Hunter-gatherers have long eaten lots of fruits, and they certainly consume vast amounts of sugar. Yet they don’t seem to suffer from obesity, metabolic disorders, or particularly high rates of tooth decay. How can this be?
The answer is the fiber.
Fiber significantly reduces the insulin spike that accompanies sugar consumption. This is the primary reason why eating sugar through berries – rather than coca cola – does not cause diabetes, rapid weight gain, or metabolic syndrome.
The plant matter that comes with the sugar in berries is also why they do not cause tooth decay. Some peoples regularly eat whole sugar cane without developing tooth decay or getting fat, simply because the sugar is wrapped up in so much fiber and water!
Fitting More Into Your Diet
Adding more berries to your diet is easy. After all, they are delicious, so it shouldn’t be too much of a chore to eat a cup or so per day.
A good way to get more berries in is to get them at breakfast. We al usually crave something sweet in the morning, so add a cup of blueberries or strawberries to your cereal and enjoy the big influx of Vitamin C at the start of your day.
You could go the whole hog and swap your cereal out entirely, replacing it with a bowl of mixed berries.
You might also enjoy frozen berries added to a smoothie.
There’s no need to go overboard, and there’s no wrong way to do it.
Simply try to get more berries into your diet and see how much better you feel!