Look at your watch and give yourself 20 seconds to name as many berries as you can!
The biological definition of a berry is “a fleshy fruit that usually has many seeds; it is made from a single ovary and its middle and inner layers are not distinct from each other”.
No doubt you thought of blueberries and cranberries, and you may have thought of goji berries and elderberries, but I wonder if you came up with blackcurrants, cherries, grapes and tomatoes, or even dates and bananas, all of which technically are berries (cherries and dates are one-seeded berries). Perhaps even more surprisingly is that to be really strict you could remove blackberries, raspberries and strawberries from your list, as these are actually ‘aggregate fruits’ that consist of a number of smaller fruits.
Berries for Health
Berries and aggregate fruits like blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are among the healthiest foods on the planet. The reason they are so amazing is that they are a great source of phytochemicals – naturally occurring chemicals which help to neutralise harmful free radicals.
Free radicals are by-products of normal biochemical processes that take place in each and every one of us. They are actually utilised by the body to kill bacteria and fight inflammation, but, when they build up to excessive levels, they may begin to damage protein, DNA, cells and tissue through a process called oxidation.
Phytochemicals have an antioxidant effect that protects body cells from cancer and cardiovascular disease. The prefix phyto- actually means plant, but, given the nature of their role, these vital nutrients could just as easily be named ‘fighto-chemicals’!
There are dozens of different phytochemicals, including the following ones that are particularly abundant in berries:
found in blackcurrants, blueberries, cherries, cranberries and red currants. Also found in red / purplish vegetables like red cabbage and beetroot
Ellagic acid -
found in grapes, pomegranates, raspberries and strawberries. It is an antioxidant that reduces the effects of estrogen and may help the liver break down cancer-causing substances in the blood.
found in tomatoes, it is a bright red carotene with strong antioxidant properties. Studies show that it may protect against a variety of cancers as well as cardiovascular disease. Also found in watermelon and papaya.
found in blueberries and grapes. It is similar in structure and function to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes and red wine.
Resveratrol - found in red grapes, blueberries and pomegranates. It is believed to play a part in fighting a variety of different cancers.
The ORAC League Table
Scientists have come up with a way of comparing the degree to which fruit and vegetables can protect against free radical damage in the body. It is the ORAC score, where ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.
The left-hand side of the table below shows the ORAC scores for a variety of berries. The scores for various vegetables on the right-hand side of the table show that berries are – in general – a more concentrated source of antioxidants than vegetables.
It is essential to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in order to provide the wide range of nutrients we need for the numerous biochemical processes that are happening inside us each and every day. Unfortunately, due to impoverished soil as a result of over-farming, as well as the length of time it takes for produce to travel from field to supermarket shelf, fruit and vegetables do not always provide us with the quality of nutrients that they once did. It is, therefore, wise to take a supplement that will provide us a range of nutrients, especially phytochemical antioxidants.
The following 3 supplements are all berry-based and very good:
You can download some of my Berry Recipes here xxxxxx or visit the Resource & Further Reading page for details of trusted suppliers for the Berry Supplements.
Wishing you a Rainbow Day!
The Holistic Life Coach
Holistic & Natural Solutions for Health and Wellbeing