Did you know that berries, also known as “nature’s candy” is really, really good for you? Not only is it delicious, but it is also filled with goodness! Let’s talk about five benefits of adding berries to your diet.
1. Slows mental ageing
Blueberries and strawberries are nutrition powerhouses. Research done on 16 010 women over the age of 70 found that the women who ate one serving of blueberries or two servings of strawberries per week experienced less mental decline than those who didn’t. The ones who ate the most berries postponed mental decline by about two and a half years! Now you might ask, what in the berries makes it so beneficial for mental health? Berries contain flavonoids and anthocyanins, they are responsible for the bright colour of the berries, but are also nutrients found in plants that are powerful anti-oxidants.
2. Improves heart health
Berries are not only good for your brain, but also good for your heart. A meta-analysis done on twenty-two studies found that eating berries significantly lowered LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and systolic blood pressure (the top value). Flavonoids, that are found in berries, are also known for lowering the risk of developing heart disease, meaning it lowers your risk for heart attack and stroke.
3. Helps regulate blood sugar and may support gut health
It has been found that consuming berries improves fasting glucose (blood sugar levels before eating in the morning), body mass index and haemoglobin A1c (a blood test that shows your average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months). Fibre is also important when it comes to blood sugar, something that berries also contain. Fibre helps maintain blood sugar levels and it’s also a prebiotic, which is important for gut health.
4. Decreases risk of cancer
Consuming berries may also decrease a person’s risk for cancer, especially cancer of the gastrointestinal tract (these organs include the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus) and breast cancer. This might be due to berries being rich in flavonoids and its anti-oxidant properties that protect cells from DNA damage and reduces inflammation.
5. May reduce the risk of urinary tract infection
Have you also heard that cranberries can treat/prevent urinary tract infections (UTI)? Well studies done on this topic found that eating cranberries can reduce your risk for contracting UTI by 26% and thus it might be effective in preventing UTI, but these studies were relatively small, with no more than 300 participants. It is suggested that bigger studies have to be done to confirm these findings.
To add or not to add?
So should you be adding them to your diet? I would think so yes, although some studies about their health benefits are inconclusive, I believe that the benefits of the flavonoids and anti-oxidants are essential to our overall health.
Berries can be enjoyed in your morning oats, a salad or as a snack. They will definitely add a little bit of sweetness and a lot of health benefits to your day.
Let us know what you think about berries and their benefits in the comments!
Devore, E.E., Kang, J.H., Breteler, M.M. & Grodstein, F. 2012. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of neurology, 72(1), pp.135-143.
Fu, Z., Liska, D., Talan, D. and Chung, M., 2017. Cranberry reduces the risk of urinary tract infection recurrence in otherwise healthy women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of nutrition, 147(12), pp.2282-2288.
Huang, H., Chen, G., Liao, D., Zhu, Y. & Xue, X. 2016. Effects of berries consumption on cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis of randomized controlled trials. Scientific reports, 6(1), pp.1-11.
Kristo, A.S., Klimis-Zacas, D. and Sikalidis, A.K., 2016. Protective role of dietary berries in cancer. Antioxidants, 5(4), p.37.
Yang, B. and Kortesniemi, M., 2015. Clinical evidence on potential health benefits of berries. Current Opinion in Food Science, 2, pp.36-42.