The antioxidants in berries can help your body fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals that can lead to illness. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help improve your health, protect your skin and hair, and prevent certain diseases. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, but nutrient-rich berries are some of the absolute best sources.
There are several powerful antioxidants that appear in berries, including anthocyanins, quercetin, and vitamin C. Anthocyanins give berries their vibrant color, reduce inflammation, and may help prevent and manage arthritis. Anthocyanins work together with quercetin to help slow age-related memory-loss. Quercetin can also decrease the inflammatory effects of chemicals in the synovial fluid of the joints for people with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin C is another strong antioxidant found in berries. It is largely responsible for the health of collagen, which helps maintain cartilage stores and aids in joint flexibility. Eating vitamin C–rich berries will contribute to radiant skin and healthy hair, and may reduce the risk of arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
In addition to antioxidants, berries are “juicy foods,” which means they contain mostly water. Juicy foods are great for losing weight because they fill you up quickly, since their high water content bumps up the volume while driving down the calories. Berries also contain fiber and folate. Fiber aids in weight loss and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Folate may protect against cardiovascular disease and age-related memory loss, and since folate contributes to the production of serotonin, it may also help ward off depression and improve your mood. IBS sufferers take note: Some people with IBS experience discomfort after eating berries.
Remember, if you can’t find fresh berries, frozen (unsweetened) berries are a good substitute during the off-season months — and just as nutritious!
The best berries are blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, and cranberries.