Autumn is a great time of year to go foraging for edible berries, but whether you pick-your-own or purchase from a supermarket, you stand to benefit either way. Berries come loaded with goodness, and their versatility means they’re a great snack on their own or ideal added to breakfast cereals, baking mixtures and puddings or even savoury dishes and salads. Here’s why berries should feature on every daily menu.
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Rich in antioxidants
The words antioxidants and berries almost go hand in hand, since these juicy fruits are packed to the rafters with disease-fighting molecules. In particular, berries are a valuable source of the antioxidants resveratrol, ellagic acid and anthocyanins, which can help to reduce oxidative stress in the body. All berries are worthy sources of antioxidants, but researchers reckon blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are top scorers.
Full of nutrients
For such small fruit, berries pack a punch when it comes to their nutritional content. Loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, your body stands to benefit in many ways when you include berries in your diet. For instance, one cup of strawberries provides 150% of your daily requirements for vitamin C, while you get nearly a third of your daily requirements of manganese from a serving of blackberries. Even better, berries are low in calories so are ideal for those wanting a sweet hit without the worry of putting on weight.
Improved cardiovascular health
Berries are good for your heart and your entire cardiovascular system, according to a waft of studies conducted by scientists. They contain chemicals that can reduce inflammation of the blood vessels whilst lowering cholesterol. One study found that participants who consumed a blueberry smoothie daily showed an improvement in the functioning of endothelial cells in the blood vessels, helping to keep arteries healthy. Another study concluded that obese participants who ate a serving of blueberries for a couple of months experienced a 28% reduction in LDL, or bad, cholesterol.
Degenerative disease prevention
Add berries to your diet and you could stave off degenerative diseases later on in life. Interestingly, researchers have found that chemicals called polyphenolics can remove toxins in the brain that are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have found that consuming just two portions of berries each week can slash the risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 40%.
Reduced diabetes risk
Eating berries could help fight the war against diabetes and insulin sensitivity. Scientists have found that despite berries being sweet they don’t cause sugar spikes, making them an ideal choice of snack for those with diabetes. In fact, they may even lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin response, especially when eaten with foods that are high in carbohydrates.
Full of fibre
Experts agree that diets that are high in fibre are the healthiest, keeping the digestive tract in good working order and even preventing diseases. The good news is that all berries boast a high fibre content, with raspberries and blackberries enjoying especially high levels. Additionally, if you’re looking to lose weight, adding berries to your diet could help. Since fibre-rich foods make you feel fuller for longer, these humble berries could keep hunger pangs at bay.