Subsisting on a diet of nothing but berries might seem a real stretch, and it is, as it's doubtful that any nutritionist or other health expert would ever recommend such a diet. But a closer look at the variety of berries and their benefits afforded us – not to mention what all the other fruits and vegetables of the world can do for us – tells us that there is a lot of good to come from a steady consumption of berries, even if just as a supplement to our main courses. Lauri Boone, a registered dietitian and author of Powerful Plant-Based Super Foods, per huffingtonpost.com, refers to berries as the ultimate anti-aging superfood, saying, They top the charts with their high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals to keep your brain young, skin glowing, and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes . . . . While fruits and vegetables are generally loaded with antioxidants, berries for the most part have particularly high levels of polyphenols, per webmd.com, an antioxidant known for fending off chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Berries also are loaded with fiber, more so than other types of fruits, and fiber likewise plays a significant role in bolstering heart health. Berries aren't truly a source of the fountain of youth, but they do provide a range of health benefits that, taken together, could paint a colorful, veritable cornucopia of black, blue, red, purple, and even a dash of yellow-orange (courtesy of goldenberries, which are found mostly in South America. With their abundance of vitamin B, protein and fiber, goldenberies are known for helping to regulate metabolism while also keeping you feeling fuller longer, possibly contributing to weight loss).
10 Berries Worth Grabbing by the FistfulOther than the aforementioned goldenberries, here are 10 berries, in alphabetical order, that merit serious consideration for addition to your diet, whether they are to be used on top of breakfast cereals, as healthy ingredients for a richly flavored protein shake/smoothie, or in some other delectable fashion:
- Acai berries. These get the anti-aging trophy, according to Boone. Small and dark, they contain 19 amino acids as well as a variety of fatty acids and other powerful antioxidants that make them a good candidate to enhance immunity, guard against chronic diseases, and reduce the risk of neurological diseases.
- Bilberries. These berries offer an interesting array of health benefits, ranging from enhanced night vision to lower risk of cataracts to protecting the lining of blood vessels against degeneration brought on by toxic oxidation, per globalhealingcenter.com.
- Blackberries. Another berry that fights off chronic diseases, thanks to its healthy dose of antioxidants. They also are high in pectin, a soluble fiber that studies have linked to lowering cholesterol. Blackberries also contain plentiful amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as iron and calcium, per health.com.
- Blueberries. One of their chief compounds is manganese, which can boost our energy levels, as well as vitamin K, which plays a role in building bones. Per huffingtonpost.com, blueberries are also a worthy foe for heart disease and diabetes, and they can chip in on improving our motor skills.
- Camu Camu berries. Maybe you haven't heard of these before. Small and red, they can be found growing in the Amazon rain forest on tropical bushes. With a tangy taste and loads of vitamin C, they can help fend off colds and flu, as well as help strengthen tendons and ligaments.
- Cherries. Per globalhealingcenter.com, these tasty berries – what would a milkshake be without a cherry on top? – has an abundance of quercetin and ellagic acid, and they have been singled out for their ability to promote healthy cells and tissues.
- Cranberries. A popular side dish at Thanksgiving, cranberries are full of flavonoids known as proanthocyanidins, which are a deterrent to urinary tract infections.
- Mulberries. When we aren't singing about going around the mulberry bush (early in the morning, that is), we can munch on mulberries, which are a great source of heart-healthy polyphenols, as well as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. That puts these berries into the category of foods that can help regulate blood pressure, decrease bone loss as we age, and lower the chances of developing kidney stones.
- Raspberries. One of this author's favorite foods, period – they make a wonderful dessert substitute in place of decadent, sugar-filled concoctions – raspberries are low in fat and go big on polyphenols, making them a great choice for lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Strawberries. Did you know there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries? Well, now you do. They are packed with antioxidant phytonutrients known as phenols that help guard us from disease while promoting good health. Those benefits also appear to include protecting the brain and lowering the risk of macular degeneration of the eyes.