Berries have been shown to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. It seems new research is constantly being published and berries are being recognized and analyzed for their health giving properties.
Extremely high in antioxidants, berries are among my favorite foods. In no specific order, these are berries that are extremely high health benefits:
1. Goji Berries
Sometimes called Chinese Wolfberry or Mede Berry, traditional societies link this potent berry to sexual vitality, happiness, longevity, and overall physical strength. Grown in Tibet and Nepal, goji berries have been scientifically linked to possessing the ability to fight negative health conditions and protect the liver from contaminates.
Deep red in color, goji berries are composed of 18 essential amino acids, 21 trace minerals, vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E, linoleic acid, selenium, germanium, and more beta carotene than the common carrot.
A study from the Chinese Journal of Oncology found that patients with cancer responded better to treatment when goji berries were added to their daily diet.
The blueberry is an antioxidant powerhouse. That deep blue color is related to high amounts of phytonutrients called anthocyanidins . These phytonutrients aid in the process of neutralizing free radical damage in our cells.
Overtime, the collagen matrix of our tissues and cells begins to deteriorate. Blueberries help to keep this from happening, with a high capacity for free-radical neutralization.
A recent study from Tufts University analyzed over 50 common fruits and vegetables for hard scientific data on their antioxidant capabilities. Blueberries consistently ranked at the top of this list.
Blueberries also help to reduce our chances of developing diseases related to inflammation of the cells. This includes a reduced risk for heart disease, many types of cancer, cataracts, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, glaucoma, and peptic ulcers. The American Institute for Cancer Research states, “We now know that blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances that can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer.”
3. Acai Berries
The acai berry is a relatively new-found health treasure. Once only known in the forests of the Amazon rainforest, the acai berry was traditionally used as a powerfully healing, energy-boosting fruit.
Similar to red wine, acai berries are dense in levels of anthocyanins, a substance associated with heart health and lowered levels of cholesterol.
Due to their strong antioxidant contents, acai berries are also related to slowing the process of aging and preventing diseases related to cellular oxidative damage. One acai berry holds ten times the amount of antioxidant vitamins as grapes, and two times the amount of blueberries.
Three times smaller than the blue berry, but similar in appearance and flavor, bilberries are extremely high in antioxidant anthocyanidins.
Bilberries are known for helping diabetes, as anthocyanidins protect the lining of blood vessels from being degenerated through the process of toxic oxidation . Bilberries have also been linked to possessing components that aid in the ability to increase night vision, protect the eyes, and reduce the occurrence of poor vision, cataracts, and macular degeneration .
Bilberries also hold components that increase the amount of blood flow to the circulatory vessels. This allows them to be useful in treating conditions related to circulatory problems such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Bilberries are best taken in a supplement or extract form.
Other Names for Bilberries: Huckleberry, Wineberry, Dyeberry
There are over 600 varieties of strawberries on the earth so you won’t have to look hard to find this deep-red health booster. Strawberries are high in antioxidant phytonutrients known as phenols. Phenols are responsible for protecting the heart from disease, reducing risks of cancer, and acting as an overall anti-inflammatory fruit.
Studies show that strawberries may also help protect the brain with a powerful antioxidant capacity. Strawberries reduce macular degeneration of the eyes, and are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, many B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, iodine, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and copper.
One study from Cornell University demonstrated that strawberries stopped the proliferation of HepG(2) liver cancer cells . Another study showed that a substance found in the berry called isothiocyanate inhibited esophageal cancer.
Blackberries are more than just powerful antioxidants. They are also extremely high in some of the highest forms of chronic disease and cancer-fighting compounds: vitamins C, E, and ellagic acid. They also hold high levels the soluble fiber known as pectin, a substance that studies link to lowered levels of cholesterol. Related to the rose, lab studies on these thorny-bushed berries at Ohio State University showed the ability to stop tumor formation in the oral cavity, as well as proliferation of colon cancer cells.
Cherries are high in quercetin and ellagic acid. This antioxidant flavonoid has been shown to act as an anti-cancer agent in cells and tissues.
Cherries are also high in anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, substances related to reducing the symptoms of arthritis, inflammatory conditions and migraine headaches. Cherries also contain melatonin, an important natural chemical related to healthy sleep rhythms and maintaining a youthful appearance.
Growing Your Own Berries
Most berries are fairly easy to grow and are fun to pick and eat first thing in the morning for breakfast. I recommend purchased berries be organically certified. Although not listed, raspberries are extremely high in ellagic acid and also have tremendous health benefits.
What are your favorite berries?
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
- Andres-Lacueva, Cristina Shukitt-Hale, Barbara, Galli Rachel, Jauregui, Olga, Lamuela-Raventos, Rosa, Joseph, James A. Anthocyanins in aged blueberry-fed rats are found centrally and may enhance memory. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2005 April. vol.8 issue2, pages 111-120.
- Bell DR, Gochenaur K. Direct vasoactive and vasoprotective properties of anthocyanin-rich extracts. J Appl Physiol. 2006 Apr;100(4):1164-70. Epub 2005 Dec 8.
- Fursova AZh, Gesarevich OG, Gonchar AM, Trofimova NA, Kolosova NG. Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats. Adv Gerontol. 2005;16:76-9. Russian.
- Meyers KJ, Watkins CB, Pritts MP, Liu RH. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of strawberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Nov 5;51(23):6887-92.