Nutrition Articles

The Benefits of Berries

Red, Black & Blue are Berry Good for You!

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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.
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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.

Member Comments

    While blackberries and raspberries are easy to grow, they can be very invasive. It's best to plant them in an area surrounded by concrete. They spread by underground runners, and can be incredibly difficult to get rid of. - 9/6/2014 6:03:23 PM
    I'm very fortunate when it comes to blueberries. I live in a place with a short growing season so access to fresh local produce is limited to a few weeks of the year. But in the late summer when the wild blueberries ripen, I have only to drive a short distance and I can find plenty of places to pick as many wild blueberries as I want. We always pick way more than we can use right away. I immediately bake pies, make muffins and add fresh berries to my breakfast and the rest we freeze so we always have a few of the little gems on hand whenever we want to put them in pancakes, muffins or smoothies. Our wild berries are definitely a reason to be happy even as summer is winding down. - 8/25/2014 12:06:57 PM
  • I stock up on blueberries and strawberries when they're in season and on sale. I wash & slice the strawberries, then put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet that I've lined with parchment paper. I freeze them overnight, then break them apart & put them in freezer bags. For blueberries, I wash them & put them on the cookie sheet, freeze overnight & put them in a freezer bag. This way, I don't have to remember whether or not I washed them. I often put some frozen blueberries in a container of low-fat cottage cheese & pack it for lunch. By the time I'm ready to eat, the berries have thawed.

    I use the frozen strawberries in smoothies, or thaw them in the fridge with a little agave nectar to use in desserts. - 8/7/2011 10:41:51 PM
  • Tonight I made my favorite salad to take with dinner to a friend's house. A platter of cut romaine, red onion rings, sliced strawberries, fresh red raspberries, blueberries, Feta cheese, chopped pecans and raspberry vinaigrette over it. Everyone loved it!!! - 8/6/2011 10:33:58 PM
    A tip about freezing berries - small berries like raspberries freeze best if you spread them out in a single layer and freeze them on a plate or a tray. You can bag them once they're frozen. - 8/6/2011 1:07:29 PM
    Most of these berries are incredibly easy to grow, and taste best - and have the greatest health benefits - when absolutely fresh and in season, which is easiest to achieve when you're producing them yourself. It's also a much, much cheaper way to get fresh produce into your diet. I wish SP would encourage people to grow more of their vegetables and fruits. There are also lots of other berries which are not available commercially but which are just as healthy and taste great - and easy to grow (black currants, red currants, huckleberries....
    ). - 8/6/2011 1:05:06 PM
  • I love berries of all kinds, especially blackberries. There are some wild raspberry bushes down the street, and just yesterday I went and picked a whole container. They're smaller, firmer, brighter, and tastier than store-bought berries. And they were free! Score! - 8/6/2011 8:56:11 AM
    I tell all my friends and family who perhaps only have a small patio or a ledge, you can get a small berry plant and have fresh berries now and then. You can't beat the benefits and taste of fresh berries just picked. - 5/15/2011 6:11:04 PM
  • I had no idea that berries were an anti-inflamatory food! - 2/23/2011 10:36:22 AM
  • I bought some blueberries this weekend. The price was a little high, but I wanted a break from oranges, bananas and apples. The berries are rather sweet. I'm happy with my decision. JEC - 1/30/2011 11:48:27 PM
  • Sadly I can't eat berries because of allergies though I love the smell of strawberries - 11/18/2010 12:04:20 PM
    Berries are quite expensive, like many people have said, but have you all tried the "pick and pay" places? There are a couple of small farms around where I live and you can pick your own berries (mainly black berries and strawberries, some raspberries) and the prices are substantially lower than supermarkets. And you know you get the freshest available! - 8/9/2010 5:22:58 PM
  • I agree, berries are crazy expensive. However, as I am lucky enough to be near a farmer's market, I stock up and freeze berries when they are in season. Blueberries have worked out the best for me (freeze in an airtight baggie, do not wash ahead of time. Take out what you need, rinse with warm water in a colander, dump into pancake or other batter. It does not need defrosting). Strawberries only seem to work in things like homemade ice cream or smoothies. I haven't tried freezing raspberries yet, as they get consumed too quickly to put any in the freezer! - 8/6/2010 12:22:54 PM
    I have a raspberry patch most people would kill for, I like to pick a cup fresh each morning for my yogurt. Sweet and tart are excellent, and vanilla yogurt makes me feel I am eating raspberries and cream enjoy! - 8/6/2010 9:56:48 AM
    An easy way to add berries to your diet. Walmart sells frozen berries(cost effective) that I add to light yogurt with a sprinkle of high protein, high fiber cereal. It's breakfast everyday, easy & full of nutrients to start the day! - 8/6/2010 9:36:57 AM

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