For me the beginning of berry season is an exciting time not only because I just love all types of berries it is a confirmation of summer, longer days and time at the beach! Berries are low in calories yet high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are one of the best foods you can eat in terms of nutritional value. Bursting with flavonoids,in particular anthocyanins which are powerful compounds known to help the body defend against cancer, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis and allergies.
The disease fighting power of berries
- Eating a variety of colour in the diet is one way to ensure that you are consuming beneficial flavonoids (plant chemicals) that aid our immune system. In general, the more deeply pigmented a fruit or vegetable is, the more nutritional value it has, and deep colour of berries indicate their potential benefit1.
- Berries have high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) values, meaning that they reduce the amount of oxidative stress which is implicated in aging and degenerative disease, with USDA scientists recommending 3,000-5,000 ORAC units each day.2
- Anthocyanins have been shown to be effective in reversing age-related deficits in memory and learning .3
- Anthocyanins and other berry extracts have been shown to directly protect the blood vessels and the neurological system.4
- Anthocyanins and other berry extracts have also been shown to have remarkable anti-aging effects.5
Blueberries are super tasty and low in calories, packed full of antioxidants and are also a modest source of a healthy omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid. Blueberries are particularly known for their ability to protect against age-related deterioration of memory and brain function6.
Blueberry along with strawberries and blackberries display cancer-protective benefits, by inducing self-destruction of oral, breast, colon, and prostate cancer cells 7.
Blueberries are among the most nutrient dense berries. A 1 cup serving (148 grams) of blueberries contains, along with the beneficial phytochemicals:
Fibre: 4 grams.
Vitamin C: 24% of the RDA
Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA
Manganese: 25% of the RDA
They are also about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with only 15 grams of carbohydrates and research suggests that anthocyanins in blueberries can have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism 8. Nutrient values
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and also contain decent amounts of folate (B9) and potassium. A 1 cup serving (148 grams) of Strawberries contains:
Fibre: 3 grams.
Vitamin C: 99% of the RDA (more than oranges!)
Manganese: 26% of the RDA
Like blueberries they are also very high in water (91%), and an entire cup contains only 50 calories, with only 12 grams of carbohydrates. Nutrient values
As mentioned above strawberries are another great cancer fighter, strawberry extracts have been shown to inhibit growth of liver, oral, breast, colon, and prostate cancer cells 7. In a study where rats were artificially “aged” using radiation, a diet high in strawberries helped protect the animals from age-related deficits in learning and memory 9. Strawberries and berry anthocyanins, improve cardiovascular health, with studies showing links between berry consumption and a lower risk of heart-related deaths 10.
Raspberries are also a rich source of flavonoids, with the same health benefits listed above. A 1 cup serving (148 grams) of raspberries contains:
Fibre: 7 grams.
Vitamin C: 44% of the RDA
Like other berries they are also high in water, and an entire cup contains only 52 calories, with only 14 grams of carbohydrates.
Raspberries are high in quercetin and gallic acid that help fight against cancer, cardiovascular disease and age-related decline11, 12
Now with the overwhelming benefits of berries we should all be taking advantage of this time of the year with New Zealand homegrown produce. I just love to eat berries raw as they come, served at room temperature, however if you have an awesome berry recipe that you would love to share, then please use the comment box below or email us before the 21st of December. We will give them all a try and the winning recipe will get listed on our website and get a Christmas gift from us 🙂
1. Jeong, J.-W., Lee, W. S., Shin, S. C., Kim, G.-Y., Choi, B. T., & Choi, Y. H. (2013). Anthocyanins downregulate lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory responses in BV2 microglial cells by suppressing the NF-κB and Akt/MAPKs signaling pathways. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 14(1), 1502–1515. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijms14011502
2. Haytowitz, D., & Bhagwat, S. (2010). USDA database for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of selected foods, Release 2. Retrieved from http://www.orac-info-portal.de/download/ORAC_R2.pdf
3.Rendeiro, C., Vauzour, D., Rattray, M., Waffo-Téguo, P., Mérillon, J. M., Butler, L. T., … Spencer, J. P. E. (2013). Dietary levels of pure flavonoids improve spatial memory performance and increase hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e63535. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063535
4. Ohguro, H., Ohguro, I., & Yagi, S. (2013). Effects of black currant anthocyanins on intraocular pressure in healthy volunteers and patients with glaucoma. Journal Of Ocular Pharmacology And Therapeutics: The Official Journal of The Association for Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 29(1), 61-67. doi:10.1089/jop.2012.0071
5. Si, H., & Liu, D. (2014). Dietary antiaging phytochemicals and mechanisms associated with prolonged survival. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 25(6), 581–591. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.02.001
6. Brewer, G. J., Torricelli, J. R., Lindsey, A. L., Kunz, E. Z., Neuman, A., Fisher, D. R., & Joseph, J. A. (2010). Age-related toxicity of amyloid-beta associated with increased pERK and pCREB in primary hippocampal neurons: reversal by blueberry extract. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 21(10), 991–998. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.08.005
7. Seeram, N. P., Adams, L. S., Zhang, Y., Lee, R., Sand, D., Scheuller, H. S., & Heber, D. (2006). Blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, red raspberry, and strawberry extracts inhibit growth and stimulate apoptosis of human cancer cells in vitro. Journal of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, 54(25), 9329-9339.
8. Martineau, L., Couture, A., Spoor, D., Benhaddou-Andaloussi, A., Harris, C., Meddah, B., & … Haddad, P. (2006). Anti-diabetic properties of the Canadian lowbush blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. Phytomedicine, 13(9/10), 612-623 12p.
9. Shukitt-Hale, B., Carey, A. N., Jenkins, D., Rabin, B. M., & Joseph, J. A. (2007). Beneficial effects of fruit extracts on neuronal function and behavior in a rodent model of accelerated aging. Neurobiology of Aging, 28(8), 1187-1194.
10. Rissanen, T. H., Voutilainen, S., Virtanen, J. K., Venho, B., Vanharanta, M., Mursu, J., & Salonen, J. T. (2003). Low intake of fruits, berries and vegetables is associated with excess mortality in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. The Journal of Nutrition, 133(1), 199-204.
11. Mace, T. A., King, S. A., Ameen, Z., Elnaggar, O., Young, G., Riedl, K. M., … Lesinski, G. B. (2014). Bioactive compounds or metabolites from black raspberries modulate T lymphocyte proliferation, myeloid cell differentiation and Jak/STAT signaling. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy : CII, 63(9), 889–900. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-014-1564-5
12. Skrovankova, S., Sumczynski, D., Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., & Sochor, J. (2015). Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(10), 24673–24706. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161024673