There are 600 varieties of berries out there! Did you know that berries of all colours are the champions of disease prevention. Greens are the healthiest of our vegetables and berries are the most health giving of our fruits and they taste gorgeous too.
Berries come in wonderful and intense blue black, purple and red colours and these bright and contrasting colours attract fruit eaters to help the plants disperse their seeds.
It is the pigments in the berries – the Anthocyanins, that are packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals that block the activity of other damaging chemicals called free radicals which damage our cells causing us to age and develop diseases such as cancer.
Antioxidant rich berries therefore offer potential protection against cancer, are a boost to our immune system and act as a guard for our liver and brain. So shop for the shiniest, reddest of strawberries and the blackest of blackberries – its the colours that are the anti-aging, anticancer antioxidants!
Forget "an apple a day", Berries are the way!
With an antioxidant power of about 60 units an apple is just no match for berries.
Per 120 g - Strawberries come in with antioxidant power of 320, Cranberries at 330, Raspberries at 350, Blueberries at 380 and Blackberries at a massive 650 units - so choosing blackberries over strawberries appears to pack the biggest punch!
Strawberries are delicious and packed with phytonutrients called phenols that make them heart-protective, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. Strawberries help to protect our brain and eyes and just 12-20 strawberries a day gives us 113% of our daily helping of Vitamin C - Wow!
Blueberries also offer brain protection due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to improve memory loss and age related decline in cognitive function and macular degeneration. They promote urinary tract health and are also rich in vitamins C, E manganese and fibre.
Blackberries are up there in the top 10 antioxidant rich foods. For pregnant ladies, blackberries are high in folate – good news too if you are trying to conceive.
Blackberries contain a high concentration of phytoestrogens or plant oestrogens, a compound believed to play a vital roll in the prevention of both breast and cervical cancer.
The high tannin content of blackberries helps to tighten tissue, alleviate haemorrhoids, relieve intestinal inflammation and diarrhoea. Blackberries aid in the strengthening of blood vessels, fighting heart disease and as they contain salicylate, the substance found in aspirin, as well as pectin they can also aid in the reduction of cholesterol.
These days, berries are available in the shops and supermarkets pretty much all year round and the good news is that even frozen berries do no appear to lose much of their nutrients and they are cheaper too!
So you can use them in a smoothies, as a desert, on your salad or, as mother nature's sweets, just popped right into your mouth! Enjoy!