Nutrition Articles

The Benefits of Berries

Red, Black & Blue are Berry Good for You!

Isn’t it wonderful when something that tastes so yummy is also good for you? That’s what you get when you enjoy the delicious, sweet flavor of berries. The pigments that give berries their deep red, blue, black and purple hues are powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants. It is believed that antioxidant-rich foods offer protection against conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

The scientific community measures the antioxidant levels in foods using the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test. The higher the ORAC value, the more antioxidants a food provides.

Scientists have discovered that berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits. Raspberries, for example, contain an especially high level of antioxidants—three times more than kiwis and 10 times more than tomatoes.

The average serving of fresh or lightly cooked produce provides between 600 and 800 ORAC units. But berries blow these values away—one cup of blueberries has an ORAC value of 5486, followed by blackberries at 4654, strawberries with 3520, and raspberries at 2789. Scientists believe that eating between 2000 and 5000 ORAC units daily may increase the body's antioxidant supply high enough to result in positive health outcomes.

Slightly tart and juicy, the raspberry is a nutritional powerhouse in a tiny package. Raspberries are rich in ellagic acid (which provides the majority of the berry's antioxidants), and anthocyanins (which give raspberries their deep, red color and exhibit antimicrobial properties). As if their high antioxidant content wasn’t enough, raspberries are also great sources of the vitamins and minerals riboflavin, niacin, folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese and vitamin C.

Most cultivated varieties of raspberries are grown in California from June through October. Raspberries are highly perishable and should be purchased one or two days before using. Choose berries that are firm, plump and deep in color and avoid any that are mushy or moldy. Make sure that they are not packed too tightly in their container, since this may crush them. Because raspberries are so perishable, use care when storing them. Remove any spoiled or moldy berries before putting them in the refrigerator and then place the unwashed berries in their original container or spread them out on a plate lined with a paper towel. Avoid keeping raspberries out at room temperature or exposing them to sunlight for very long, they will spoil quickly in these conditions.

Raspberries can be enjoyed plain or mixed with yogurt for a healthy snack. Toss a few on top of your breakfast cereal or in your pancakes. Add them to salads for an unusual taste sensation. Top your raspberry-filled salad with balsamic vinegar to really bring out the flavor of the berries. Also check out these raspberry recipes.
Continued ›
Page 1 of 3   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

x Lose 10 Pounds by April 2! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.