The botanical definition of berries is any fruit that develops from a single ovary of a flowering plant. This description would actually include some fruits/vegetables that people don’t think of as “berries” like avocadoes or pumpkins. The examples of berries that will be presented here, however, adhere to the common usage – small, round, juicy, and edible fruits.
The various types of berries may belong to different formal categories but most of them have brightly colored skin or at least colored to stand out in a typically verdant background. The evolutionary reasoning here is that the color of the berries attracts birds and other animals, which will then readily consume the small fruits and help disseminate the seeds. (Seeds are not always digested and just pass through.)
As it happens, most of the substances that give berries their noticeable pigments are antioxidants for the human body. Keep on reading to know more about the healthy benefits of berries.
Berries seem to be one of the fruits that can be an exceptional supply of nutritional substances that can counter oxidative stress. This is the condition where there are more cell damage causing free radicals than antioxidants in the body. Including a few berries in the diet can thus restore this imbalance.
Anthocyanin is one of the pigment substances that give berries their color. It is also one of those considered to have a positive impact on human health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As a pigment it can appear blue, purple or red depending on the acidity of the fruit.
Here are a few berries that abundantly contain anthocyanin. They are listed with some of their other major nutrients. Quantities are based on per 100 grams of the fruit.
Blueberries – 54 IU Vitamin A, 19 µg Vitamin K, 10 mg Vitamin C, 77 mg Potassium
Blackberries – 214 IU Vitamin A, 21 mg Vitamin C, 29 mg Calcium, 162 mg Potassium
Raspberries – 26.2 mg Vitamin C, 25 mg Calcium, 8 g dietary fiber
Wolfberries (goji) – 148 mg Vitamin C, 112 mg Calcium, 9 mg Iron, 1.1 g Potassium
Other antioxidant substances that are found in varying amounts in berries are ellagic acid and quercetin. Based on preliminary research, ellagic acid can inhibit certain types of carcinogens from binding with DNA. Meanwhile, one of the effects of quercetin is to help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the break down of carbohydrates into simple sugars during digestion.
Berry Practical Uses:
The examples of berries given here are highly cultivated for commercial distribution and use. Fortunately, there is still a significant volume produced for the fresh fruit market.
It might be difficult to obtain fresh wolfberries or goji berries in regions outside China, where it is mainly grown. This particular berry is usually exported in dried form or as part of a processed beverage or food supplement product.
Berries are quite fragile fruits so the best way to purchase them fresh is when they are in season. Depending on the type or cultivar, that can be anytime between late spring to mid summer. Organically produced berries are the best option in order to avoid contaminants like pesticides.
Next to consuming them whole and fresh, the easiest way to enjoy the nutritional value of berries is to turn them into smoothies. Add other fruits or ingredients like wheat germ into the blender to diversify the flavor and nutrients.
Given that such fruits are available in the warm months, you can puree a single type or mixture of berries, pour the liquid into a popsicle mold, and then stick it in the freezer for a couple of hours. This is a cool treat for summer that doesn’t come with processed sugar or artificial additives.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the benefits of cherries that will help you in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the fruits on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the benefits of berries, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the benefits of berries.