Healthy, Berry-licious Reasons to Eat Berries Now
Think big health benefits, fresh summer berry salads, and the best blackberry crisp
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Photograph by Rachael Nusbaum
It’s finally summer — time to kick back with the family, escape to the beach, and load up on juicy, naturally sweet fresh berries. From raspberries to blackberries, these delectable fruits are at their peak. They also happen to be incredibly good for you.
No matter which berry is your favorite, these colorful gems are bursting with nutritional goodness. Here are five healthy reasons to load up on fresh berries, plus 10 recipes you’re going to want to put on regular rotation.
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Health benefits of berries
Photograph by Rachael Nusbaum
You know the saying that good things come in small packages? Well, when it comes to the health benefits of berries, it’s true. We asked two registered dietitians to tell us more. Rachel Helfferich, based in Indianapolis, runs her own virtual practice, Everglow Nutrition, and is a yoga instructor. Amy Gorin is owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut.
1. Rich in vitamin C
Berries — particularly strawberries — are loaded with this essential vitamin. Vitamin C is well-known for its role in immune system health, notes Helfferich. “A diet rich in vitamin C is associated with better wound repair, healthy bones, disease prevention, and healthy aging,” she says.
Health benefits of strawberries: 1 cup contains 89 mg vitamin C, about 100% of the recommended dietary allowance for adults.
2. Packed with fiber
Berries are excellent sources of dietary fiber, and national consumption surveys suggest that 95 percent of Americans don’t get enough. “Studies link fiber to a number of health benefits including lowering cholesterol, aiding digestion, and boosting immunity,” says Gorin. Dietary fiber helps with satiety, too, she adds — meaning you’ll feel fuller longer.
Health benefits of blackberries: 1 cup contains 7.6 g fiber. For adults age 31-50, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 25 g fiber daily for women and 31 g for men.
3. Loaded with antioxidants
Ever wonder what gives berries their bright hue? Berries contain beneficial plant pigments called anthocyanins that give them their red, blue, and purple colors — and which happen to be powerful antioxidants. “These antioxidants help prevent inflammation and also help to prevent chronic disease,” Gorin says. Antioxidants — including anthocyanins — help protect cells against free radicals and may reduce cancer risk.
Health benefits of black raspberries: In summer, look for fresh black raspberries, the type of berry with the highest level of antioxidants (blueberries come next). Some markets also sell frozen black raspberries.
4. May lower cholesterol
Berries are a heart-healthy food and may actually help lower cholesterol. In one study, Gorin says, people who regularly ate blueberries experienced lower LDL cholesterol levels, versus people who were not regularly eating the berries.
Health benefits of blueberries: They contain a compound called pterostilbene that may help break down fat and cholesterol.
5. May improve brain health
“Researchers found that eating more berries may help slow the effects of cognitive decline,” Gorin says. The brain requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Antioxidants (see above) in foods such as berries help reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are often linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
10 tasty summer berry recipes
While berries are perfectly delicious just as they are, why not enjoy their versatility and health benefits in both sweet and savory dishes? These refreshing recipes star five popular summer berries — blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and boysenberries — for any meal of the day. Get your berry baskets ready!
With two cups of fresh blueberries and calcium-rich plain yogurt, this simple smoothie is a great way to supercharge your body in the morning. The berries are a great source of antioxidants and fiber, and contain modest amounts of vitamin C.
Mixed in just one bowl, these quick and easy bars burst with fresh strawberries. Made with rolled oats, whole-wheat flour, and a touch of ginger, the buttery treats are high in dietary fiber, and can be served as dessert or breakfast on the go. In addition to their high vitamin C content, strawberries are rich in polyphenols — antioxidant compounds found in plants that can promote a healthy gut, healthy blood pressure, and blood sugar; reduce inflammation; and possibly help with weight management issues, too.
Vitamin C-rich strawberries shine in this romaine salad topped with crunchy pecans and rich feta cheese. Drizzle your greens with poppyseed dressing seasoned with mustard, garlic, and red wine vinegar for complex flavor in every bite. Wondering if you should splurge on organic berries? Gorin shares her rule: If you have grocery dollars to spend on organic produce, save it for fruit that you’re going to eat the outsides of, such as berries or an apple. “But if it's between buying the conventional version of a fruit versus not buying the fruit at all, buy whatever version of the fruit that fits your budget!” she says.
Now this is healthy eating: flavorful salmon salad dotted with figs, blackberries, and blueberries! Protein-rich salmon is an excellent source of omega-3s, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. And blackberries, loaded with fiber and anthocyanins, are also high in manganese (vital to bone development), vitamin K (beneficial for blood clotting), and vitamin C.
For a healthy, low-carb dinner packed with protein, make this chopped chicken, avocado, and raspberry salad. The berries contribute fiber and vitamin C. The salad also showcases creamy, potassium-rich avocado, full of heart-healthy fat that keeps you feeling full and satisfied.
For a good-for-you summertime meal, try this low-calorie kale salad with fresh blueberries, carrots, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. The dressing gets jazzed up with Champagne vinegar, mustard, honey, and walnut oil, which adds a delicate, nutty flavor. No walnut oil? No worries. Feel free to replace it with extra-virgin olive oil instead. Both oils contain antioxidants that can help prevent free radical damage.
These mixed berry pops are a cool pick-me-up after a hot summer day. Packed with four different berries, the delectable homemade treats are high in vitamin C, which is beneficial to skin health, including collagen production. Fun fact: In the 1920s, a horticulturalist named Charles Rudolph Boysen successfully bred a cross between a blackberry, raspberry, and loganberry, and the boysenberry was born!
Every summer needs a scoop — or several — of delicious berry ice cream. Here’s a simple recipe with five ingredients for creamy fresh raspberry goodness. Raspberries not only have a memorable tart sweet flavor but they also contain nutritional plant chemicals called flavonoids, known for having antioxidant effects.
A warm berry crisp is a classic summertime treat. This recipe keeps it simple and is loaded with four cups of sun-kissed blackberries! To make the tasty dessert gluten-free, just switch to gluten-free oats and gluten-free all-purpose flour such as Cup4Cup.
For an easy but wow-worthy summer treat, create your own boysenberry danishes starting with store-bought puff pastry. Fill them with two cups of vitamin C-rich fresh boysenberries — or if you prefer, one cup each of raspberries and blackberries. Happy berry season!
To your health!
At Yummly we're here to support you on your health journey, whether you're thinking about your diet in terms of an issue like weight loss or cardiovascular health, you just want to promote overall wellness, or you’re looking for ways to cook healthy ingredients. Explore more resources in these next articles.