Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the bounty of berries: sweet strawberries, beautiful blueberries and tangy raspberries abound at local markets during the summer months, and if you didn’t already love them, we have 10 reasons why you should boost your berry intake now and all year long. Dr. Greger, physician, researcher, and frequent contributor to Care2, recommends eating berries every day for the massive health benefits they offer.
There are many types of berries in season during the summer months. Common berries like strawberries, raspberries, cherries are found easily; but others, like elderberries, currants and gooseberries, are also in season. And while our natural foods markets are always expanding their offerings, it’s unlikely that you will find elderberries or gooseberries at your neighborhood stores. So we’re going to focus on the more common berries, and give you 35 reasons to fall in love with these sweet fruits all over again!
10 Reasons to Savor Strawberries
1. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which boosts the strength of arteries, prevents bruising, and strengthens your body’s stress glands—the adrenals—which require the highest levels of vitamin C of all organs or glands in your body. One cup of berries contains 160% of your daily needs for vitamin C.
2. Like all plant-based foods, strawberries are high in fiber and can help reduce cholesterol. Strawberries have almost 3 grams fiber/cup of whole berries.
3. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, strawberries can lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a signal of inflammation in the body. In a study, women who ate 16 or more strawberries per week were 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of CRP.
4. Strawberries are also good to use on your skin as a natural beauty treatment.
5. Strawberries can help with weight loss, as the anthocyanins actually increase the body’s production of a hormone called adiponectin, which stimulates your metabolism and suppresses your appetite.
6. The high vitamin C content of strawberries and other fruits can help offset some of the symptoms of allergies. An Everyday Health article says that, “vitamin C foods also provide allergy relief by reducing inflammation — the key to underplaying allergies [and] simply put, foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, apples, and watermelon, counteract the inflammatory allergic response.”
7. Strawberries are good for your brain and can protect against Alzheimer’s. New research shows that strawberries contain a high concentration of a compound called fisetin, which has been known for benefits to memory, but has been linked to protect the brain from damage from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Vitamins abound in strawberries! Not only are strawberries rich in vitamin C, they contain good amounts of potassium, manganese, iodine, folic acid and fiber.
9. Strawberries have been shown in studies to regulate blood sugar levels. Eating one cup of fresh strawberries caused a significant reduction in blood sugar spikes. Blood sugar spikes are linked with weight gain, mood swings, diabetes, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
10. Research shows that high amounts of vitamin C, from fruits like strawberries, can help reduce the incidence of asthma.
10 Reasons to Enjoy Blueberries
1. Blueberries are showing tremendous promise for keeping our brains happy and healthy. Scientific American reports that eating a diet high in flavonoids (which blueberries have in abundance) “may help slow the decline in mental facility that is often seen with aging and might even provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”
2. Blueberries help reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, thus making them a great choice for heart health improvement.
3. Blueberries have shown promise for relieving some problems related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Recent research shows that blueberries have an effect on brain chemistry, modulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain and helping with treatment.
4. Blueberries are high in antioxidants. Dr. Weil writes that a half cup of blueberries provides the antioxidant power of five servings of peas, carrots, apples, squash or broccoli.
5. They’re good for the heart: Research shows blueberries are great for the heart, especially for women. Eating three servings of blueberries or strawberries each week can help reduce the chance of heart attacks in women.
6. They may help reduce the risk of diabetes. One of the antioxidants found in blueberries, anthocyanins, which gives them their blue color has been found to lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. People who ate two or more servings of blueberries weekly reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 23 percent in one study. Blueberries are low on the Glycemic Index, so people with diabetes can easily consume them.
7. Blueberries help with weight loss. Want to activate those fat burning genes? Blueberries can do that with the catechins found in them. Eating foods full of catechins will double total weight loss, according to research at Tufts University. Blueberries may even help reduce belly fat.
8. They’re bursting with nutrition: Blueberries contain vitamin C, B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
9. Not only are blueberries very high in antioxidants, they are high in Vitamin k and manganese and copper.
10. Blueberries have about 4 grams of fiber per cup, which is great for reducing cholesterol and preventing weight gain.
5 Reasons to Eat your Raspberries and Blackberries
1. All berries are high in antioxidants, but a large study that measured antioxidant content of all foods, blackberries came out as the berry with the highest antioxidant content. Dr. Weil says that raspberries have 50% more antioxidant potential than strawberries; and they are placed in the top 15 of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s best antioxidant sources.
2. Blackberries and raspberries help you build a better poo. Of all the berries, raspberries and blackberries contain the highest amounts at about 8 grams fiber/cup (which is huge, considering that our needs average about 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men).
3. Packed with vitamin C, raspberries and blackberries are super fruits for their high concentration of ellagic acid. According to Rodale’s Organic Life, ellagic acid is important as an antioxidant that protects skin from sun damage and hinders the formation of an enzyme that breaks down elastin and collagen in the skin. This combination creates a one–two punch against wrinkles.” So these little berries are good for us inside and out!
4. While fruits and sugars are often not recommended for those with diabetes, the high fiber content slows the absorption of sugar in the body, making raspberries and blackberries especially a great choice for diabetics as they are considered a low-glycemic fruit.
5. Blackberries and raspberries can help reduce inflammation because of their high anthocyanin content, which helps keep our whole system running smoothly. Inflammation can lead to pain, exacerbate arthritis symptoms, and can generally stress our out body.
10 Reasons to Choose Cherries
1. Cherries are antioxidant-rich fruits, protecting us from damaging free radicals in our body.
2. Cherries and cherry juice can help reduce muscle soreness.
3. Cherries can help with insomnia: cherries contain melatonin, a hormone produced by our bodies naturally that helps regulate sleep cycles. But if our body doesn’t produce enough we can experience trouble sleeping. Research shows that, “consumption of a tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and might be of benefit in managing disturbed sleep.”
4. Compounds in cherries can lead to reduced risk of stroke!
5. Cherries can help boost your fiber intake. Like all plant foods, cherries have a good dose of fiber to keep your bowels moving. When pitted, a cup of cherries contains about 2.5 grams fiber/cup.
5. Cherries can help reduce or prevent gout, which is a very painful condition that affects the big toe. The anthocyanins that give cherries their tart flavor might also help relieve the pain associated with gout.
6. Cherries are a great anti-inflammatory fruit and can help prevent joint pain, according to Dr. Weil.
7. They may slow the aging of skin: Antioxidants help the body fight the free radicals that make us look old.
8. They have anti-cancer properties. Their flavonoid content causes the body to interfere with the stages of development of cancer cells, preventing their ability to multiply.
9. Cherries can help decrease belly fat: “Tart cherries reduced belly fat in a study. Researchers found rats that were fed whole tart cherry powder, in a high fat diet, didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t,” according to this Care2 post.
10. They’re good for the heart: Cherries are very high in potassium, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure and reduces the risk of hypertension. The phytosterols in cherries help reduce bad cholesterol levels.