16 Superfoods That Are Worthy of the Title.

Blueberries

16 Superfoods That Are Worthy of the Title.

16 Superfoods That Are Worthy of the Title

Source: www.healthline.com/nutrition/true-superfoods

Written by Ansley Hill, RD, LD on July 9, 2018

16 Superfoods That Are Worthy of the Title

Nutritionally speaking, there is no such thing as a superfood.

The term was coined for marketing purposes to influence food trends and sell products.

The food industry bestows the superfood label on nutrient-rich foods with a supposed capacity to positively affect health.

Though many foods could be described as super, it’s important to understand that there is no single food that holds the key to good health or disease prevention.

But since the term “superfood” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, it may be worth taking a closer look at some healthy options.

Here are 16 foods that may be worthy of the esteemed superfood title.

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark green leafy vegetables (DGLVs) are an excellent source of nutrients including folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and fiber.

Part of what makes DGLVs so super is their potential to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses including heart disease and type 2 diabetes (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

They also contain high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds known as carotenoids, which may protect against certain types of cancer (3Trusted Source).

Some well-known DGLVs include:

  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Spinach
  • Wheatgrass and Barleygrass

Some DGLVs have a bitter taste and not everyone enjoys them plain. You can get creative by including them in your favorite soups, salads, smoothies, stir-fries and curries.

Summary

Dark green leafy vegetables are full of fiber and nutrients which may be instrumental in preventing certain chronic diseases.

2. Berries

Berries are a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

The strong antioxidant capacity of berries is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory conditions (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

Berries may also be effective in treating various digestive and immune-related disorders when used alongside traditional medical therapies (6Trusted Source).

Some of the most common berries include:

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries

Whether you enjoy them as part of your breakfast, as a dessert, on a salad or in a smoothie, the health benefits of berries are as versatile as their culinary applications.

Summary

Berries are full of nutrients and antioxidants which may prevent certain diseases and improve digestion.

3. Green Tea

Originally from China, green tea is a lightly caffeinated beverage with a wide array of medicinal properties.

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds which have strong anti-inflammatory effects. One of the most prevalent antioxidants in green tea is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.

EGCG is likely what gives green tea its apparent ability to protect against chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Research also indicates that the combination of catechins and caffeine in green tea may make it an effective tool for weight loss in some people (9Trusted Source).

Summary

Green tea is antioxidant-rich with many health benefits including possible cancer prevention.

4. Eggs

Eggs have historically been a controversial topic in the nutrition world due to their high cholesterol content, but they remain one of the healthiest foods.

Whole eggs are rich in many nutrients including B vitamins, choline, selenium, vitamin A, iron and phosphorus.

They’re also loaded with high-quality protein.

Eggs contain two potent antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, which are known to protect vision and eye health (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

Despite fears surrounding egg consumption and high cholesterol, research indicates no measurable increase in heart disease or diabetes risk from eating up to 6–12 eggs per week (12Trusted Source).

In fact, eating eggs could increase “good” HDL cholesterol in some people, which may lead to a favorable reduction in heart disease risk. More research is needed to draw a definite conclusion (13Trusted Source).

Summary

Eggs are rich in high-quality protein and unique antioxidants. Research indicates that eating eggs regularly will not increase your risk of heart disease or diabetes.

5. Legumes

Legumes, or pulses, are a class of plant foods made up of beans (including soy), lentils, peas, peanuts and alfalfa.

They earn the superfood label because they’re loaded with nutrients and play a role in preventing and managing various diseases.

Legumes are a rich source of B vitamins, various minerals, protein and fiber.

Research indicates that they offer many health benefits including improved type 2 diabetes management, as well as reduced blood pressure and cholesterol (14Trusted Source).

Eating beans and legumes regularly may also promote healthy weight maintenance, due to their ability to improve feelings of fullness (15Trusted Source).

Summary

Legumes are rich in many vitamins, protein and fiber. They may prevent some chronic diseases and support weight loss.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, vegetarian protein and heart-healthy fats.

They also pack various plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can protect against oxidative stress (16Trusted Source).

Research indicates that eating nuts and seeds can have a protective effect against heart disease (17Trusted Source).

Common nuts and seeds include:

  • Almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts.
  • Peanuts — technically a legume, but often considered a nut.
  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds.

Interestingly, even though nuts and seeds are calorically dense, some types of nuts are linked to weight loss when included in a balanced diet (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Summary

Nuts and seeds are full of fiber and heart-healthy fats. They may reduce your risk of heart disease and support weight loss.

7. Kefir (And Yogurt)

Kefir is a fermented beverage usually made from milk that contains protein, calcium, B vitamins, potassium and probiotics.

Kefir is similar to yogurt but has a thinner consistency and typically more probiotic strains than yogurt.

Fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kefir have several associated health benefits, including reduced cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, improved digestion and anti-inflammatory effects (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

Though kefir is traditionally made from cow’s milk, it’s typically well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance due to the fermentation of the lactose by bacteria.

However, it’s also made from non-dairy beverages such as coconut milk, rice milk and coconut water.

You can purchase kefir or make it yourself. If you’re choosing a commercially prepared product, be mindful of added sugar.

Summary

Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage with multiple health benefits related to its probiotic content. Though generally made from cow’s milk, kefir is also available in non-dairy forms.

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8. Garlic

Garlic is a plant food that is closely related to onions, leeks and shallots. It’s a good source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium and fiber.

Garlic is a popular culinary ingredient due to its distinct flavor, but it has also been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries.

Research indicates that garlic may be effective in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as supporting immune function (24Trusted Source).

What’s more, sulfur-containing compounds in garlic may even play a role in preventing certain types of cancer (25Trusted Source).

Summary

Garlic is a nutrient-rich food used for its medicinal benefits for centuries. It may be useful for supporting immune function and reducing your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

9. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a natural oil extracted from the fruit of olive trees and one of the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet.

It’s biggest claims to health are its high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyphenolic compounds.

Adding olive oil to your diet may reduce inflammation and your risk of certain illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28).

It also contains antioxidants such as vitamins E and K, which can protect against cellular damage from oxidative stress.

Summary

Olive oil is one of the principle fat sources in the Mediterranean diet. It may be beneficial in reducing heart disease, diabetes and other inflammatory conditions.

10. Ginger

Ginger comes from the root of a flowering plant from China. It’s used as both a culinary flavor enhancer and for its multiple medicinal effects.

Ginger root contains antioxidants, such as gingerol, that may be responsible for many of the reported health benefits associated with this food.

Ginger may be effective for managing nausea and reducing pain from acute and chronic inflammatory conditions (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

It may also reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia and certain cancers (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

Ginger is available fresh, as an oil or juice and in dried/powdered forms. It’s easy to incorporate into soups, stir-fries, sauces and teas.

Summary

Ginger is used for its flavor and potential medicinal effects. It may be useful in treating nausea, pain and preventing certain chronic diseases.

11. Turmeric (Curcumin)

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is closely related to ginger. Originally from India, it’s used for cooking and its medicinal benefits.

Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is the focus of most research surrounding turmeric.

Studies show that curcumin may be effective in treating and preventing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).

It may also aid wound healing and pain reduction (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).

One drawback of using curcumin medicinally is that it’s not easily absorbed by your body, but its absorption can be enhanced by pairing it with fats or other spices such as black pepper.

Summary

The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is associated with several medicinal effects. Curcumin is not easily absorbed and should be paired with substances that enhance its absorption, such as black pepper.

12. Salmon

Salmon is a highly nutritious fish packed with healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium.

It’s one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for a variety of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation (39Trusted Source).

Including salmon in your diet may also lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes and help you maintain a healthy weight (40Trusted Source).

A potential drawback of eating salmon and other types of seafood is their possible contamination with heavy metals and other environmental pollutants.

You can avoid potential negative effects by limiting your consumption of fish to two to three servings per week (41).

Summary

Salmon is a good source of many nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Limit your consumption of salmon to avoid potential negative effects from contaminants common in fish and seafood.

13. Avocado

Avocado is a highly nutritious fruit, though it’s often treated more like a vegetable in culinary applications.

It’s rich in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats (42Trusted Source).

Similar to olive oil, avocado is high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). Oleic acid is the most predominant MUFA in avocado, which is linked to reduced inflammation in the body (43Trusted Source).

Eating avocado may reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancer (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).

Summary

Avocados are nutrient-rich, high-fiber fruits that may play a role in reducing inflammation and chronic diseases.

14. Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is a root vegetable loaded with many nutrients, including potassium, fiber and vitamins A and C.

They’re also a good source of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer (47Trusted Source).

Despite their sweet flavor, sweet potatoes don’t increase blood sugar as much as you might expect. Interestingly, they may actually improve blood sugar control in those with type 2 diabetes (48Trusted Source).

Summary

Sweet potatoes are a highly nutritious food loaded with carotenoids, which have strong antioxidant properties. They may also be beneficial for blood sugar control.

15. Mushrooms

Some of the most common varieties of edible mushrooms are button, portobello, shiitake, crimini and oyster mushrooms.

Though nutrient content varies depending on the type, mushrooms contain vitamin A, potassium, fiber, and several antioxidants not present in most other foods (49Trusted Source).

Interestingly, eating more mushrooms is associated with greater consumption of vegetables in general, contributing to an overall more nutritious diet (50Trusted Source).

Due to their unique antioxidant content, mushrooms may also play a role in reducing inflammation and preventing certain types of cancers (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).

Another super feature of mushrooms is that agricultural waste products are used to grow them. This makes mushrooms a sustainable component of a healthy food system (50Trusted Source).

Summary

Mushrooms are full of nutrients and may reduce your risk of certain diseases. Additionally, mushrooms are a sustainable food choice.

16. Seaweed

Seaweed is a term used to describe certain nutrient-rich sea vegetables. It’s most commonly consumed in Asian cuisine but is gaining popularity in other parts of the world due to its nutritional value.

Seaweed packs multiple nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, iodine and fiber.

These ocean vegetables are a source of unique bioactive compounds — not typically present in land-vegetables — which may have antioxidant effects.

Some of these compounds may also reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes (52Trusted Source).

Summary

Seaweed is a group of highly nutritious sea vegetables that may play a role in protecting against certain chronic diseases.

The Bottom Line

Achieving optimal health through food and nutrition is about more than focusing on one or two of the latest food trends.

11 Reasons Why Berries Are Among the Healthiest Foods on Earth

Source: www.healthline.com

Written by Franziska Spritzler — Updated on April 24, 2019

Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.

They’re delicious, nutritious, and provide a number of impressive health benefits.

Here are 11 good reasons to include berries in your diet.

1. Loaded with antioxidants

Berries contain antioxidants, which help keep free radicals under control.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that are beneficial in small amounts but can damage your cells when their numbers get too high, causing oxidative stress (1Trusted Source).

Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol. In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce disease risk (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

One study showed that blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits, next to pomegranates (4).

In fact, several studies have confirmed that the antioxidants in berries may help reduce oxidative stress (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

One study in healthy men found that consuming a single, 10-ounce (300-gram) portion of blueberries helped protect their DNA against free radical damage (8Trusted Source).

In another study in healthy people, eating 17 ounces (500 grams) of strawberry pulp every day for 30 days decreased a pro-oxidant marker by 38% (9Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries are high in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which may protect your cells from free radical damage.

2. May help improve blood sugar and insulin response

Berries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Test-tube and human studies suggest that they may protect your cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carb meals (10, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Importantly, these effects appear to occur in both healthy people and those with insulin resistance.

In one study in healthy women, eating 5 ounces (150 grams) of puréed strawberries or mixed berries with bread led to a 24–26% reduction in insulin levels, compared to consuming the bread alone (13Trusted Source).

Moreover, in a six-week study, obese people with insulin resistance who drank a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than those who consumed berry-free smoothies (14Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries may improve blood sugar and insulin response when consumed with high-carb foods or included in smoothies.

3. High in fiber

Berries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Studies show that consuming soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness.

This may decrease your calorie intake and make weight management easier (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

What’s more, fiber helps reduce the number of calories you absorb from mixed meals. One study found that doubling your fiber intake could make you absorb up to 130 fewer calories per day (17Trusted Source).

In addition, the high fiber content of berries means that they’re low in digestible or net carbs, which are calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbs.

Here are the carb and fiber counts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of berries (18, 19, 20, 21):

  • Raspberries: 11.9 grams of carbs, 6.5 of which are fiber
  • Blackberries: 10.2 grams of carbs, 5.3 of which are fiber
  • Strawberries: 7.7 grams of carbs, 2.0 of which are fiber
  • Blueberries: 14.5 grams of carbs, 2.4 of which are fiber

Note that a typical serving size for berries is 1 cup, which converts to about 4.4–5.3 ounces (125–150 grams) depending on the type.

Because of their low net carb content, berries are a low-carb-friendly food.

SUMMARY Berries contain fiber, which may increase feelings of fullness, as well as reduce appetite and the number of calories your body absorbs from mixed meals.

4. Provide many nutrients

Berries are low in calories and extremely nutritious. In addition to being high in antioxidants, they also contain several vitamins and minerals.

Berries, especially strawberries, are high in vitamin C. In fact, 1 cup (150 grams) of strawberries provides a whopping 150% of the RDI for vitamin C (20).

With the exception of vitamin C, all berries are fairly similar in terms of their vitamin and mineral content.

Below is the nutrition content of a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of blackberries (19):

  • Calories: 43
  • Vitamin C: 35% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Manganese: 32% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K1: 25% of the RDI
  • Copper: 8% of the RDI
  • Folate: 6% of the RDI

The calorie count for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of berries ranges from 32 for strawberries to 57 for blueberries, making berries some of the lowest-calorie fruits around (20, 21).

SUMMARY Berries are low in calories yet rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and manganese.

5. Help fight inflammation

Berries have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation is your body’s defense against infection or injury.

However, modern lifestyles often lead to excessive, long-term inflammation due to increased stress, inadequate physical activity, and unhealthy food choices.

This type of chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).

Studies suggest that the antioxidants in berries may help lower inflammatory markers (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).

In one study in overweight people, those drinking a strawberry beverage with a high-carb, high-fat meal noticed a more significant decrease in certain inflammatory markers than the control group (28Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries may help reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of heart disease and other health problems.

6. May help lower cholesterol levels

Berries are a heart-healthy food.

Black raspberries and strawberries have been shown to help lower cholesterol in people who are obese or have metabolic syndrome (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

In an 8-week study, adults with metabolic syndrome who consumed a beverage made from freeze-dried strawberries daily experienced an 11% drop in LDL (bad) cholesterol (31Trusted Source).

What’s more, berries may help prevent LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized or damaged, which is believed to be a major risk factor for heart disease (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).

In a controlled study in obese people, those eating 1.5 ounces (50 grams) of freeze-dried blueberries for 8 weeks noticed a 28% reduction in their oxidized LDL levels (37Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and help protect it from becoming oxidized, which may reduce your risk of heart disease.

7. May be good for your skin

Berries may help reduce skin wrinkling, as their antioxidants help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to aging (38Trusted Source).

Though research is limited, ellagic acid appears responsible for some of the skin-related benefits of berries.

Test-tube and animal studies suggest that this antioxidant may protect skin by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in sun-damaged skin (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).

Collagen is a protein that is part of your skin’s structure. It allows your skin to stretch and remain firm. When collagen is damaged, your skin may sag and develop wrinkles.

In one study, applying ellagic acid to the skin of hairless mice exposed to ultraviolet light for eight weeks decreased inflammation and helped protect collagen from damage (41Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which may help decrease wrinkling and other signs of skin aging related to sun exposure.

8. May help protect against cancer

Several antioxidants in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol, may reduce cancer risk (42Trusted Source, 43, 44Trusted Source).

Specifically, animal and human studies suggest that berries may protect against cancer of the esophagus, mouth, breast, and colon (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).

In a study in 20 people with colon cancer, eating 2 ounces (60 grams) of freeze-dried raspberries for 1–9 weeks improved tumor markers in some participants, though not all (49Trusted Source).

Another test-tube study found that all types of strawberries had strong, protective effects on liver cancer cells, regardless of whether they were high or low in antioxidants (50Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries have been shown to reduce markers associated with tumor growth in animals and people with several types of cancer.

9. Can be enjoyed on nearly all types of diets

Berries can be included in many kinds of diets.

Though people on low-carb and ketogenic diets often avoid fruit, you can usually enjoy berries in moderation.

For example, a half-cup serving of blackberries (70 grams) or raspberries (60 grams) contains less than 4 grams of digestible carbs (18, 19).

Liberal amounts of berries can be incorporated into paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

For people who want to lose weight, the few calories in berries make them ideal to include in meals, snacks, or desserts.

Organic and wild berries are now widely available in many parts of the world. When they’re not in season, frozen berries can be purchased and thawed as needed.

The only people who need to avoid berries are those who require a low-fiber diet for certain digestive disorders, as well as individuals who are allergic to berries. Allergic reactions to strawberries are most common.

SUMMARY Berries can be enjoyed on most diets, as they’re low in calories and carbs and widely available fresh or frozen.

10. May help keep your arteries healthy

In addition to lowering cholesterol, berries provide other benefits for heart health, including improving the function of your arteries.

The cells that line your blood vessels are called endothelial cells. They help control blood pressure, keep blood from clotting, and perform other important functions.

Excessive inflammation can damage these cells, inhibiting proper function. This is referred to as endothelial dysfunction, a major risk factor for heart disease (51Trusted Source).

Berries have been found to improve endothelial function in studies in healthy adults, individuals with metabolic syndrome, and people who smoke (29Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).

In a controlled study in 44 people with metabolic syndrome, those consuming a daily blueberry smoothie showed significant improvements in endothelial function, compared to the control group (56Trusted Source).

Though fresh berries are considered healthiest, berries in processed form may still provide some heart-healthy benefits. Baked berry products are considered processed, whereas freeze-dried berries are not.

One study found that although baking blueberries reduced their anthocyanin content, total antioxidant concentrations remained the same. Arterial function improved similarly in people who consumed baked or freeze-dried berries (57Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Berries have been found to improve arterial function in several studies in healthy people, those with metabolic syndrome, and people who smoke.

11. Delicious alone or in healthy recipes

Berries are undeniably delicious. They make a wonderful snack or dessert, whether you use one type or a mix of two or more.

Though they’re naturally sweet and require no additional sweetener, adding a bit of heavy or whipped cream can transform them into a more elegant dessert.

For breakfast, try berries topped with either plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese, along with some chopped nuts.

Another way to include berries in your diet is as part of a salad.

To discover the nearly endless versatility of berries, browse the internet for healthy recipes.

SUMMARY Berries are delicious when served alone, with cream, or in healthy recipes.

The bottom line

Berries taste great, are highly nutritious, and provide many health benefits, including for your heart and skin.

By including them in your diet on a regular basis, you can improve your overall health in a very enjoyable way.

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

The 8 Healthiest Berries You Can Eat

They are sweet or sour in taste and often used in preserves, jams, and desserts.

Berries tend to have a good nutritional profile. They’re typically high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant polyphenols.

As a result, incorporating berries into your diet may help prevent and reduce symptoms of many chronic diseases.

Here are 8 of the healthiest berries you can eat.

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are popular berries that serve as a great source of vitamin K.

One cup (148 grams) of blueberries provides the following nutrients (1Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    84
  • Fiber:
    3.6 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    16% of the DV
  • Vitamin
    K:
    24% of the DV
  • Manganese:
    22% of the DV

Blueberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins (2Trusted Source).

Anthocyanins from blueberries may reduce oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of heart disease in both healthy people and those at high risk for the disease (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

In addition, blueberries may improve other aspects of heart health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of heart attack, and enhancing the function of arteries (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

Blueberries may lower the risk of diabetes as well. Studies have shown that blueberries or bioactive blueberry compounds can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26% (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

A large observational study has shown that people who eat blueberries also have slower rates of cognitive decline, meaning their brain remains healthier as they age (12Trusted Source).

However, more research is needed to determine the exact role that blueberries play in brain health.

summaryBlueberries contain
good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant anthocyanins. Eating
blueberries may help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

2. Raspberries

Raspberries are often used in desserts and serve as a very good source of fiber.

One cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides (13Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    64
  • Fiber:
    8 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    36% of the DV
  • Vitamin
    K:
    8% of the DV
  • Manganese:
    36% of the DV

Raspberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can help reduce oxidative stress (14Trusted Source).

One study showed that when cyclists consumed a drink containing raspberries and other berries, oxidative stress caused by exercise decreased significantly (15Trusted Source).

The most commonly consumed raspberries are the American red or European red varieties. However, there are many different types of raspberries, and black raspberries have been shown to have a number of health benefits, too.

Black raspberries may be especially good for heart health. Studies have proven that black raspberries can reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

Other studies have shown that black raspberries may reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome (19Trusted Source).

However, these studies were very small. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of black raspberries.

Summary

Raspberries are full of
fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Black raspberries, in particular, may
benefit heart health.

3. Goji berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to China and used in traditional medicine. They have recently become very popular in the Western world.

One ounce (28 grams) of dried goji berries provides (20Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    98
  • Fiber:
    3.7 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    15% of the DV
  • Vitamin
    A:
    42% of the DV
  • Iron:
    11% of the DV

Goji berries also contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health.

One study of 150 elderly people found that eating 14 grams of a proprietary milk-based formulation of goji berry per day reduced the decline in eye health due to aging. This study, along with a second similar study, showed that eating goji berries could raise blood zeaxanthin levels (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

Like many other berries, goji berries contain antioxidant polyphenols. One study found that drinking goji berry juice for 30 days increased blood antioxidant levels of healthy, older Chinese people (23Trusted Source).

Another study found that drinking goji berry juice for 2 weeks increased metabolism and reduced waist size in overweight people (24Trusted Source).

Summary Goji berries are
particularly rich in nutrients that contribute to eye health. They also contain
important antioxidants.

4. Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most commonly consumed berries in the world and also one of the best sources of vitamin C.

One cup (144 grams) of whole strawberries provides (25Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    46
  • Fiber:
    3 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    97% of the DV
  • Manganese:
    24% of the DV

Strawberries are good for heart health. In fact, a study of over 93,000 women found that those who ate more than 3 portions of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of heart attack (26Trusted Source).

Other studies have shown that strawberries may reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).

Strawberries can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP) (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).

Moreover, strawberries may help control blood sugar levels, which is important for preventing diabetes (33Trusted Source).

In fact, a study of over 200,000 people found that eating strawberries could reduce type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 18% (34Trusted Source).

Finally, another study showed that eating 2 ounces (60 grams) per day of freeze-dried strawberry powder reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory chemicals in people at high risk of developing esophageal cancer (35Trusted Source).

Summary

Strawberries are an
excellent source of vitamin C. They are proven to reduce risk factors for heart
disease and help control blood sugar.

5. Bilberries

Bilberries are very similar to blueberries, and the two are often confused. Bilberries are native to Europe, whereas blueberries are native to North America.

3.5 ounces (100 grams) of bilberries provide (36):

  • Calories:
    43
  • Fiber:
    4.6 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    16% of the DV
  • Vitamin
    E:
    12% of the DV

Many scientific studies have shown that bilberries are effective at reducing inflammation.

A couple of studies have shown that eating bilberries or drinking bilberry juice can reduce inflammation in people at risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).

Another study of 110 women found that eating bilberries for around 1 month reduced the levels of endothelial markers that are implicated in the development of heart disease. Bilberries also reduced waist circumference by 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) and weight by 0.4 pounds (0.2 kgs) (39Trusted Source).

A separate study found that eating a diet rich in bilberries, whole grains, and fish reduced blood sugar in people with high blood sugar (40Trusted Source).

Bilberries may also increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).

Summary

Bilberries are similar
to blueberries and are effective at reducing inflammation. They may also help
reduce weight and blood cholesterol.

6. Acai berries

Acai berries grow on acai palm trees native to the Brazilian Amazon region.

They have become popular health food supplements because of their high antioxidant content.

3.5 ounces (100 grams) of acai berry puree provides (43Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    70
  • Fiber:
    5 grams

Keep in mind that acai berries are often consumed dried or freeze-dried, which can affect the nutritional content.

Acai berries are one of the best sources of antioxidant polyphenols and may contain as much as 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries (44Trusted Source).

When consumed as a juice or pulp, acai berries can increase blood antioxidant levels and reduce chemicals involved in oxidative stress (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).

Additionally, acai berry pulp has been shown to reduce blood sugar, insulin, and blood cholesterol levels in overweight adults who consumed 200 grams per day for 1 month (47Trusted Source).

These effects have also been shown in athletes. Drinking 3 ounces (100 ml) of an acai juice blend for 6 weeks reduced blood cholesterol and reduced oxidative stress after exercise, which may speed up recovery from muscle damage (48Trusted Source).

The antioxidants in acai may also help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study of people with osteoarthritis found that drinking 4 ounces (120 ml) of acai juice per day for 12 weeks significantly reduced pain and improved daily living (49Trusted Source).

SummaryAcai berries contain
high amounts of antioxidants, which may help reduce blood cholesterol,
oxidative stress, and even reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

7. Cranberries

Cranberries are an extremely healthy fruit with a sour taste.

They are rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are commonly consumed as juice.

1 cup (110 grams) of raw cranberries provides (50):

  • Calories:
    46
  • Fiber:
    3.6 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    16% of the DV
  • Manganese:
    12% of the DV

Like other berries, cranberries contain antioxidant polyphenols. However, most of these antioxidants are in the skin of the cranberry. Therefore, cranberry juice doesn’t contain as many polyphenols (51Trusted Source).

The best-known health benefit of cranberries is their ability to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Certain chemicals in cranberries prevent the bacteria E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder or urinary tract, therefore reducing the risk of infection (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).

A number of studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can reduce the risk of UTIs (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source, 57Trusted Source).

Cranberry juice may reduce the risk of other infections as well.

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers and cancer. A number of studies have shown that cranberry juice can prevent H. pylori from attaching to the stomach wall and thus prevent infection (58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source).

Cranberry juice has also shown various benefits for heart health. Many studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and “stiffness” of arteries (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source).

However, it’s best to avoid varieties of cranberry juice with lots of added sugar.

SummaryCranberries and
cranberry juice can reduce the risk of urinary tract and stomach infections and
may benefit heart health. However, it’s best to avoid juices with lots of added
sugar.

8. Grapes

Grapes are widely consumed either as whole, raw fruit or as juice, wine, raisins, or vinegar.

One cup (151 grams) of whole, raw grapes provides (64Trusted Source):

  • Calories:
    104
  • Fiber:
    1.4 grams
  • Vitamin
    C:
    5% of the DV
  • Vitamin
    K:
    18% of the DV

The skin and seeds of grapes are an excellent source of antioxidant polyphenols. A number of studies have shown that grape seed polyphenol extracts can lower both blood pressure and heart rate (65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source).

However, many of these studies were small. Other studies assert that the effect of polyphenols on blood pressure remains unclear (67Trusted Source).

A large observational study found that eating grapes or raisins 3 times per week was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes (68Trusted Source).

Another study found that eating 17 ounces (500 grams) of grapes per day for 8 weeks reduced blood cholesterol and oxidative stress in people with high cholesterol (69Trusted Source).

Finally, grape juice may even benefit brain health. A small study of 25 women found that drinking 12 ounces (355 ml) of Concord grape juice every day for 12 weeks significantly improved memory and driving performance (70Trusted Source).

Summary Grapes, particularly
the seeds and skin, are full of antioxidants. They may help reduce blood
cholesterol and type 2 diabetes risk while also benefiting brain health.

The bottom line

Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Many berries have proven benefits for heart health. These include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, while reducing oxidative stress.

They may also help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by acting as great alternatives to sugary snacks.

Try to eat a few portions of berries a week and sample different types. They make a great snack or healthy breakfast topping.

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