I love all types of fruits, but berries are my favorite of them all and I often marvel at the range of beautiful berries and their health benefits. They are a great snack and if you're trying to lose weight, you're much better off snacking on a handful of nutrient-rich berries than you are reaching for the chocolate box. Most of the time their leaves can also be used to make healthy and delicious teas. Berries have been used in herbal and natural medicine to relieve symptoms from arthritis and gout to eye inflammation and sunburn. So here are some berries and their health benefits that will make you want to run straight to your local supermarket and load up your trolley.
I love learning about berries and their health benefits and Goldenberries are one of the many super-berries on the block. Also known as Inca berries, Cape gooseberry and physalis, they are packed full of nutrients and bursting with vitamins. A number of studies have been undertaken to test the health benefits of these super fruits and studies have shown that they may help protect the liver and kidneys from fibrosis. They are also reported to help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels and their anti-inflammatory properties mean that these berries may also help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. Not only that, they have been touted as the fat-busting berry because of their protein content. A super-berry if ever I saw one!
2 Goji Berries
I love snacking on Goji berries and throwing a handful on my cereal. They are also known as wolfberries, which to me sounds like a food fit for a fairytale forest. These antioxidant-rich berries can help maintain healthy skin. They are great for muscle health, eye health and can also help promote a peaceful sleep. Go Goji berries!
Blueberries have long been touted as the super food of choice for many a fruit enthusiast and there are good reasons for that. They are a fabulous anti-aging food and are also good for gum disease and preventing dry skin. Their antioxidants can also prevent eye damage. They are also great for improving memory, with studies showing that consumption can increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Raspberries are another super fruit. Studies have shown they can minimize the absorption of fat and can also regulate blood sugar levels. The leaves are traditionally made into a tea and used as a pregnancy aid to strengthen the uterus, but should only be consumed in the last two months of pregnancy.
Blackberries are a wonderful source of vitamin C to help boost your immune system. They also contain fiber, which means they are great for the gut. Studies have also shown they can also help lower blood pressure and could protect the heart against heart disease. Their leaves can be brewed to make a tea, which can soothe tummy upsets, treat mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.
I'm about to shock you senseless guys so make sure you're seated. These fruits, yes fruits, not vegetables, are classified as berries. Now that you're over that shock, the humble tomato is an amazing fruit and being of Italian descent, luckily it has long been a staple part of my diet. They used to be called the love apple and here's the sweet story behind it. In Italy, these fruits used to be called 'pomi dei mori' which translates as 'apples of the moors'. When this was said out loud, it sounded to the French like 'pomme d'amour', which translates as 'apple of love' in English. There are so many wonderful varieties of tomatoes and they are a great source of vitamins C and E. Studies have shown that the lypocene in tomatoes may also help prevent some forms of cancer. Their versatility in cooking means there are very few excuses for not throwing them on salads or making a delicious tomato source for your pasta. Unless of course you have an allergy, in which case, steer clear.
Cranberries have long had a reputation for helping treat urinary tract infections but there are so many other reasons for cramming some cranberries into your diet. They can protect your teeth by reducing plaque build-up and can also help take the edge off those heavy periods you may be suffering from. Just a few reasons to either have another dollop of cranberry sauce with your celebratory turkey at Thanksgiving, throw some dried cranberries on your muesli or simply sip on a glass or two of the refreshing juice!
Elderberries are wonderful immune-boosting berries, although their sour taste means they are often made into jams and syrups to make them a little more palatable. Their fresh flowers can be made into a tea to fight colds and relieve the awful nasal congestion that comes with it.
Traditionally associated with summer and Wimbledon, technically, these beautiful fruits are not actually berries but seeing as I love them so much I couldn't leave them out. There are good reasons for their popularity. They are very high in vitamin C and can prevent unhealthy cholesterol from damaging the arteries. Eat them when they're fresh in season to make the most of these nutritional powerhouses and try going organic to benefit from them in their purest pesticide-free form.
One word of warning guys, if you're not 100% sure whether the fruit on those bushes that you pass by every morning, are berries that are fit for human consumption, please don't take the risk. Some innocuous looking berries can actually be very dangerous and are reserved for birds that will be able to disseminate the seeds in the only way they know how (you may have seen the result of a misfire on your window!) Picking berries from bushes on the roadside also isn't a great idea, as they are likely to have been contaminated by the exhaust fumes from those pesky passing cars. What other foods do you love to eat as an alternative to naughty chocolates and sweets?
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