Berries are one of the most versatile little foods on the planet. You can gather them in the wild, grow them in your backyard, or buy them at the grocery store. There are dozens of varieties of berries out there, from the ever-popular strawberry to the whimsically named gooseberry.
Many berries are classified as “superfoods,” and for good reason. They pack a lot of nutritional power into a tiny package. Berries are also fun for adults and kids to eat.
Berries of all kinds are rich in antioxidants, which can prevent cell damage and may reduce the risk of certain diseases. The antioxidants found in berries are responsible for many of their health-boosting properties.
Blood Sugar Control
If your blood sugar is too high for a long time, it can harm your heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes, and more. Studies have shown that eating berries can help your body control blood sugar levels and avoid dangerous blood sugar spikes.
One of the ways that berries help control blood sugar is by helping your body respond better to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls your blood sugar by helping your cells use the glucose in your blood. Eating berries can help your body be more responsive to insulin, so less sugar builds up in your blood.
Berries contain many different types of antioxidants. Studies have shown that antioxidants can help reduce cell damage that may cause cancer.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of permanent vision loss in people over age 55. A large-scale study showed that antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing AMD. Berries are rich in antioxidants, so eating plenty of them may help keep your eyes healthier for longer.
Antioxidants may also help prevent and treat cataracts, which develop when protein builds up in the lens at the front of your eye. Studies show that consuming high levels of certain antioxidants may reduce the risk of cataracts. Antioxidants may also help slow the growth of existing cataracts and preserve eyesight for longer.
Berries are high in fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol. Soluble fiber “catches” harmful cholesterol as it passes through your intestines, carrying it out as waste. Research shows that this may reduce harmful cholesterol in your blood and help protect your heart.
The antioxidants in berries may also help to reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Eating plenty of fiber helps slow down digestion and makes you feel fuller for longer. According to one study, people who eat extra fiber take in fewer calories and may lose more weight.
There are many different kinds of berries, and nutrition content can vary from one kind to the next.
Nutrients per Serving
A half-cup serving of blueberries contains:
- Calories: 42
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 11 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 7 grams
- Vitamin C: 7 milligrams
A half-cup serving of blackberries has a slightly different nutritional content:
- Calories: 31
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Sugar: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 15 milligrams
The recommended serving size of most berries is ½ cup. That's the same whether you're eating smaller berries like blueberries or larger ones like strawberries.
How to Prepare Berries
Berries are delicious fresh or cooked into some of your favorite recipes. You may lose a slight amount of vitamin C if you cook berries, but the effect is minimal.
Here are some ways you can get more berries in your diet:
- Sprinkle berries over your oatmeal or cereal in the morning.
- Eat berries by themselves as a healthy snack.
- Bake a strawberry or blueberry pie.
- Bake up a berry cobbler.
- Drop some berries into lemonade for a delicious summer drink.