When was the last time you ate a handful of fresh berries…??? Can’t remember….Here’s the reason…. Berries are tiny, uncommon, ignored, and may be expensive. Moreover, they are more familiar in foods such as cakes, jams, candies, etc. But, these berries overflow with numerous health benefits. They truly deserve the title of being called “real treasure in a small package”.
Not sure if you are aware but there are a variety of berries available in the market. Another trivia on berries is there is also something called the National Berry Month celebrated in July.
I found it interesting to write a blog on ‘Berries’, the not so talked about but beneficial fruit.
So what makes them a super food? Here is my list of reasons
1. The bright red, maroon or purple colour of the berries is due to the presence of pigments or natural dyes called phytochemicals which act as an anti-oxidant. These antioxidants slow down your ageing process.
2. They prevent heart diseases and cancer due to the presence of Gallic acid.
3. They are very low on sugar as compared to other fruits and rich in fibre and thus they help in weight management and improving digestion. They also keep you fuller for a longer time.
4. They contain certain organic acids which help in our body detoxification.
5. They help in fighting various bacterial and fungal infections (e.g. Urinary Tract Infection)
6. Lastly they are loaded with vitamin C, known to strength our immune system.
Now coming to the different types of berries, one good thing is that although it may not be easy to get fresh berries….even the dried or frozen ones offers many health benefits. One can find various kinds of berries in supermarkets or high end grocery stores (Natures basket, Hypercity, Chheda stores, FoodHall, etc to name a few.)
Few berries that I have been eating are listed below. You can eat them as it is, soak them, add them in your breakfast cereal/ yoghurt or make homemade sauces. In short you can literally play with them!
1. Blueberries: No wonder they are called as the “blue dynamos” due to its deep blue colour. Rich in manganese, vitamin K they provide around 4 grams of fiber. They can be eaten fresh as well as dried. Try tossing them into salads, smoothies or baked items.
2. Cranberries: These red berries are not only pretty looking but are infection fighting super berries. Packed with flavonoids, they are a great remedy to fight Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s). It’s got a sweet as well as a tart flavor which makes them a perfect ingredient for smoothies, sprinkling them into oatmeal or salads.
3. Strawberries: These red health boosters are the most common types of berries consumed. They grow abundantly in India too. They are rich in antioxidants called phenols which help in boosting immunity. They are perfect for a mid-evening snack with just 50 calories per cup and more vitamin C than an orange. They can be relished in smoothies, frozen yoghurts, breakfast cereal and salads or just mixed with plain water.
4. Mulberries: Many of us including me have eaten a handful of these freshly plucked from the trees in our backyard. These delicate berries are packed with heart healthy phenols, Ca, iron and magnesium. A cup of these provide more potassium than half a banana! They can be enjoyed frozen, in smoothies or sorbets.
5. Acai berry: A dark coloured berry resembling grapes is a native of Brazil. They are amongst the top super foods having 19 amino acids and high levels of antioxidants. These berries have recently gained popularity since they claim to have weight loss properties. However, this is just another fad although it helps lowering bad cholesterol. These berries are very expensive since they have to be freeze dried within 24 hours of plucking to retain its nutrition.
Apart from these berries, there are a few more berries – Goji berries, Huckleberry, Maqui berry, Sea Buckthorn berry, etc to name a few which may not be that common in India but are of equal benefits to our health.
So what’s your favourite berry? Go ahead and start including these berries in your diet as they are the “nature’s multi-vitamin”.