You may know that berries are full of health benefits. Sure, they are loaded with fiber, which helps you feel full (and eat less). But did you know berries are good for easing your arthritis symptoms, too? Berries top the charts in antioxidant power, protecting your body against inflammation and free radicals, molecules that can damage cells and organs. Studies in aging animals even show that mixed berries improve cognition and motor performance.
James Joseph, PhD, director of the Neuroscience Lab at the United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, which conducted the studies, notes that people become more susceptible to the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation as they age. Berries help prevent those effects by turning off the inflammation signals triggered by cytokines and COX-2s, he says, making them an ideal part of your diet.
To get the optimal health benefits of berries, eat two to three types of fresh, frozen or dehydrated berries each day. Incorporate the benefits of berries into your daily diet with the following suggestions.
Strawberries contain more vitamin C in a one-cup serving than one orange and are particularly high in folic acid.
Easy serving tip: Top with a light whipped topping for a low-calorie dessert or dip in melted, low-fat brie cheese.
Blueberries contain 20 types of anthocyanin – antioxidants that give berries their blue-violet and red colors. Other berries contain only three or four types.
Easy serving tip: Toss a handful on cereals and yogurt, blend into smoothies or put on a bagel with cream cheese.
Blackberries, Raspberries and Boysenberries each contains 8 grams (g) of fiber in one cup – one-third the daily recommended amount (25 g).
Easy serving tip: Blend them with 100-percent fruit juice and heat to make a sauce for lean meats, such as fish and chicken.
Cranberries not only combat urinary tract infections by preventing Escherichia coli bacteria from sticking to cells in the urinary tract, but they also are a natural probiotic, supporting healthy bacteria that grow in the gastrointestinal tract and aid in digestion.
Easy serving tip: Add a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries to bread recipes. Toss dried cranberries in salads or trail mixes.