Berry Good

Berries are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Various types of berries include blueberries, raspberries, Goji berries, strawberries, bilberries, Acai berries, cranberries, blackberries, gooseberries and grapes. Yes, grapes are classified as a berry.

Berries are low in calories, high in fiber, contain many vitamins as well as polyphenols. Berries also have antioxidant and inflammatory properties. Consuming about a cup of berries daily can significantly improve cardiovascular function, prevent cardiovascular disease, lower fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Berries are extremely nutritious and include Vitamin C, Manganese, Vitamin D1, Copper and folate. Berries are a good source of soluble fiber which slows the movement of food through the digestive tract which reduces hunger by prolonging a full feeling. All this natural fiber helps lower the number of calories absorbed. Lower calories absorbed can lower weight.

Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits, next to pomegranates. Antioxidants keep free radicals under control which are unstable molecules that are beneficial in small amounts but can be damaging to cells when their number gets too high, causing oxidative stress.

Inflammation is our body’s defense against infection or injury. Modern lifestyles often lead to excessive, long-term inflammation due to increased stress (mental or physical), inadequate physical activity and unhealthy food choices.  Berries can lower this inflammatory process which can lower the risk of heart disease and other health problems making them a heart healthy food.  Berries can lower the LDL or bad cholesterol by more than 10%.

Berries may be good for the skin. The antioxidant ellagic acid is thought to contribute to skin sagging and wrinkles. 

And above all, berries taste great. Fresh berries are great in season, which is usually June to August.  When berries are out of season, choose frozen. Dried berries should be your last option since the drying process lowers the nutritional value.  Berries can be eaten with a meal, as a snack or added to a smoothie. Various berries have slightly different qualities and nutrients so its’ great to mix them up in your diet.

You will notice that JUICE is not listed and should be avoided. Fruit juice has no fiber and is basically sugar water with a few vitamins. So, EAT your berries!!

As always, choose organic. Washing berries does not remove the pesticides which is in the soil and grows into the berry. Berries do contain natural sugar so small portions is recommended.

Live Long, Live Healthy!

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560,,  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.