I have never met a berry I didn’t like. From the tart blackberry to the super-sweet raspberry, berries are just delicious. But they aren’t just pretty faces; berries are nutritional and healing powerhouses that warrant a place in any diet. Here are my top 10 sensational summer berries (adapted from my ezine World’s Healthiest News):
When my husband and I lived on Vancouver Island we spotted blackberries growing just about everywhere. Sometimes the bushes would reach 15 to 20 feet high and were even found at the borders of parking lots. We’d keep baskets with us so we could stop and pick these decadent treats wherever we stumbled across them. Packed with vitamin C, blackberries also contain ellagic acid — an important phytonutrient that protects skin cells from damaging UV rays. Ellagic acid also prevents the breakdown of collagen in the skin that occurs as we age and is linked to wrinkling.
Many phytonutrients give blueberries their dark blue color, rich flavor and disease-fighting attributes. They contain: anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechins and salicylic acid. You may recognize that last phytonutrient since it is the drug we’ve come to know as Aspirin. In this beautiful and delicious packaging offered by Mother Nature, there’s no worry about harmful side effects linked to pills. Blueberries are showing tremendous promise in the prevention and treatment of brain disease thanks to their proven ability to reduce heat shock proteins that are linked with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as other neurological disorders.
Currants contain gamma-linolenic acid that inhibit the body’s histamine—the allergic response in reaction to pollens. That makes them a great choice if you’re trying to avoid or eliminate sinus congestion and itchy eyes linked to seasonal allergies. Since they are tart, you might enjoy them best mixed with other berries.
The fruit of the elder plant has been described as a whole medicine chest in one plant. It’s no surprise when you consider the benefits of these tasty treats. Research is showing that elderberries fight infections of all kinds, particularly viral. This is an area of weakness in the pharmaceutical community which has many antibacterial agents and very few effective antiviral drugs. Elderberries are known for reducing the length and severity of colds and flu. Additionally, a group of natural compounds called polyphenols has been shown to improve bone density in diabetics, but they probably have a similar effect in non-diabetics as well.
Keep reading to discover the berries that heal varicose veins and protect against cigarette smoke and pollution…
Gooseberries—the berries that resemble green grapes—help you to feel happier. In recent research in the journal Experimental Neurobiology, scientists found that gooseberries contain a flavonoid called kaempferol that prevents the breakdown of brain hormones serotonin and dopamine. These brain chemicals naturally help us fight stress and keep our spirits up.
A cross between blackberries and raspberries, these berries strengthen blood vessels, making them an excellent addition to help fight heart disease or varicose veins. They contain rutin, which research shows strengthen capillaries and improve circulation.
My grandparents grew a huge fruit and vegetable garden. Whenever I visited them in the summer, I quickly disappeared into the rows of raspberry bushes to see if they were ripe yet. Not only are raspberries my favorite fruit, they are potent medicine too. In Chinese Medicine they are used to improve liver and kidney function as well as to cleanse the blood of toxins. They also contains compounds that are ten times more effective at alleviating inflammation than aspirin. Thanks to the phytonutrient ellagic acid that they contain, raspberries can help protect against pollutants found in cigarette smoke (first- or second-hand), processed foods, and may neutralize some cancer-causing substances before they can damage healthy cells.
These orange- to reddish-berries look similar to raspberries and are found growing wild in the forests along the Pacific coast. I spent a year-and-a-half in Tofino, Canada where these berries lined the trails of the town. These berries formed part of the traditional diet of the native peoples of the coastal regions. They are a good source of the vitamins A, C, K and the mineral manganese.
When it comes to superfoods, Saskatoon berries are perhaps the most overlooked. These small purple berries are even higher than wild blueberries and many other fruits in their antioxidant content (based on their ORAC—oxygen radical absorbence capacity measurement). They have anti-cancer, anti-aging, and heart-protective compounds that justify their place in the ranks of superfoods. They are named after the Canadian city Saskatoon, in the prairies where these berries originate; however, they were originally a traditional food of the native peoples in the area.
Every summer when strawberries burst into gardens and markets across the continent, I am reminded of my strawberry-picking expeditions as a child with my dad and sister. My mom agreed to make dozens of pies or fresh jam if we’d pick the strawberries needed. That was all the incentive I needed to pick dozens of baskets of these delicious fruits. These babies also pack a serious punch. Not only do 8 strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange, they are antioxidant powerhouses that have been shown in research to help prevent and fight arthritis, cancer, heart disease, memory loss, and wrinkling, proving that food really is the best medicine.