I’ve been an avid fruit lover since the beginning of time. My parents always made sure to incorporated some kind of fruit or vegetable with every meal while my sister and I were growing up but- plot twist! We actually loved every bite of our 4-6 daily servings. (You’re welcome, Mom and Dad) Now that I’ve turned into my crazy health freak self I’ve began to take my fruit fetish to the next level by diving into what fruits do what and which are really the best for you. Especially since I started the macro diet and realized that 80% of my diet consists of fruits… maybe not the best thing ever haha. Yes, yes fruits are great for you and all fruits bring something amazing to the table, but which ones really give you the biggest bang for your buck? My findings so far show that berries are pretty DAMN awesome and if you don’t eat a lot of them you should definitely start like, right now. Here’s the gist:
There are all kinds of berries- blueberries, blackberries, strawberries (although some people don’t consider them berries), cranberries, boysenberries, Golgi berries, acai berries, raspberries, golden raspberries and the list goes on. But all berries are filled with one scientific component you want to start recognizing: phytochemical. “Phytochemical” sounds scary, but this chemical is actually a lifesaver. It’s a generic term for components found in many fruits and veggies that supply lots of nutrients to the body. There are over 4,000 different types of phytochemical that aid in physical movement, anti-bacterial effects and protection from cell damage just to name a few.
Berries are so special specifically because of their crazy-high amount of the phytochemical antioxidants. Antioxidants provide lots of different health benefits including stronger nails, hair, brain function and immune system, and berries are LOADED with them. Antioxidants are a more specific category of nutrient, but there are different types of antioxidants as well. I know that’s a little confusing, but bare with me. There are three main antioxidents in berries that make them so powerful- vitamin C, anthocyanins and quercetin. These antioxidants help to prevent arthritis, memory loss, joint pain, muscular degeneration, diseases, caner and much more.
Another really cool thing about berries is almost all of them are 80% or more water, making them a low calorie and low sugar food. Perfect for diabetics looking to get their dose of nutrients without overdoing the sugar intake. Eating fruits with high water content also is a great habit for weight loss because it makes you feel fuller without having to take in as many calories. A cup of raspberries contains just 64 calories and 5.4 grams of sugar while a cup of pineapple (a high sugar fruit) contains 82 calories and 16.2 grams of sugar.
Lastly berries contain lots of fiber, and I’m not talking the kind of “fiber” you get from those FiberOne cookies. Please don’t eat those by the way it’s a scam. Berries lend one of the best fiber-per-calorie ratios out there because each berry is packed with many fiber-bearing seeds. Fiber is good for the body because it aids in digestion, boosting the immune system, fighting against disease and more. Raspberries contain 7 grams of fiber per cup and elderberries (although harder to find) contain a whopping 10 grams of fiber per cup. Holy s*** that’s awesome.
Wait, the real last thing I want to mention is that berries just taste so damn good! Whether you’re eating them fresh, frozen and blended in your smoothie or incorporating them into a salad or muffin recipe berries always provide an interesting twist without overpowering your sweet tooth. Of course you’re going to get a lot more of these nutrients when you eat your berries plain and unsweetened, so don’t forget to read the labels on products before you buy them. Dried berry products more often than not contain berries that have been processed with oils and sugars so vier away from those. Here’s a small list of some products and places I buy my berries to get my fix!
- Fancy berry melody- $2.99, 16 oz bag @ Trader Joe’s
- Individual packs of raspberries, blueberries or blackberries- prices will vary depending on the season but the cheapest places I’ve found berries are either at Sprouts or your local farmer’s market. I took the picture above at my local farmer’s market in La Verne and those individual boxes were just $2 each. You can also find large trays of raspberries or blueberries at Costco for about $5 when they’re in season!
- Freeze dried blueberries- $3.29, 1.2 oz bag @ Trader Joe’s
- Dried Golgi berries- $14.99, 1 lb bag @ Amazon.com
- Fresh organic cranberries- $1.99, 1 lb bag @ Sprouts
It doesn’t need to be summertime for you to get your dose of berries, so make the holidays sweeter by incorporating any type of berry into your cooking or general diet! And no, pies don’t count, I’m sorry.
To health infinity and beyond!