Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries ― they’re all tasty, and you don’t have to feel guilty about eating them. That’s because berries are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant that keep your cells healthy.
It’s easy to add berries to your diet once you’re aware of how good they are for you. Add them to cereal or oatmeal, puree them to make a smoothie, sprinkle them on salads or enjoy them with a dollop of light whipped topping for dessert.
Need more convincing? Here are five reasons why berries belong in your ― and your child’s ― diet.
1. Keep my brain healthy, please!
With people living longer these days, brain health should be a priority. Living to ninety may have its merits but not if you can’t remember the names of your grandchildren. That’s where berries come in. Research suggests that berries may protect brain cells against stress that can lead to memory problems and lower the risk of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Wild blueberries may be particularly beneficial since they contain high levels of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Choose wild or organic when possible.
The promote eye health
The strawberry is a superstar when it comes to antioxidant power. In addition, 1 cup of strawberries gives you a whopping 140 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Strawberries are also packed with flavonoids, two in particular, called quercetin and kaempferol. Research shows that these two flavonoids help keep “bad” (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing and damaging artery walls. Other health benefits of strawberry include eye care, proper brain function, and relief from high blood pressure, arthritis and gout.
2. A natural way to lower the risk of heart disease
The antioxidants in berries are also your ally in preventing heart disease. According to research, blueberries, and probably other berries, lower LDL-cholesterol levels and raise HDL, the heart-protective type of lipid. Cranberries also have a positive impact on HDL levels, although it’s best to avoid sugar-sweetened cranberry juice and get the benefits of cranberries from the whole berry.
3. Reduce the risk of urinary tract infections
Research shows that cranberries lowers the risk of urinary tract infections. Research suggests that compounds called proanthocyanidins in cranberries make it harder for infection-causing bacteria to bind to tissues in the urinary tract. The anti-adhesion benefits of cranberries have another benefit. They keep bacteria from clinging to your teeth and gums so plaque isn’t formed. Again, don’t undo the benefits by drinking sweetened cranberry juice.
4. They’re a good source of vitamin C
When you think of vitamin C-rich foods, citrus fruits like oranges come to mind ― but did you know that a cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than a medium orange? Strawberries also have less natural sugar than an orange does. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that also plays an important role in healthy immunity against infection. A cup of strawberries supplies more than the day’s requirement of vitamin C ― and they taste great too.
5. They keep your colon clean
Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S, and a diet rich in blueberries could help keep it at bay. Colon cancer usually arises from pre-malignant polyps, and an ingredient in blueberries may keep colon polyps from forming. This compound called pterostilbene is also found in red grapes and wine and is believed to have anti-cancer benefits. One more reason to sprinkle wild blueberries on your oatmeal.
Summary: Get the tasty benefits
Fresh or frozen ― berries have benefits. Frozen berries are a good choice for a smoothie since they thicken liquids better than fresh ones. You can even find wild blueberries in the frozen section of some supermarkets. Be sure to get the benefits of berries from the whole berry rather than a glass of juice where you won’t get the benefits of the fiber. Enjoy berries at any meal or as a snack. You’ll be doing your and your child’s body a favor – and your taste buds too.