Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red or purple.
They are sweet or sour in taste and often used in preservatives, jams and desserts.
Berries tend to have a good nutritional profile. They are typically high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant polyphenols.
As a result, incorporating berries into your diet may help prevent and reduce symptoms of many chronic diseases.
Here are 8 of the healthiest berries you can eat.
Blueberries are popular berries that serve as a great source of vitamin K. One cup (148 grams) of blueberries provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 84
- Fiber: 3.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
- Manganese: 25% of the RDI
Blueberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins from blueberries may reduce oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of heart disease in both healthy people and those at high risk for the disease.
In addition, blueberries may improve other aspects of heart health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of heart attack and enhancing the function of arteries.
Blueberries may lower the risk of diabetes as well. Studies have shown that blueberries can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%.
A large observational study has shown that people who eat blueberries also have slower rates of cognitive decline, meaning their brain remains healthy as they age.
However, more research is needed to determine the exact role that blueberries play in brain health.
Summary: Blueberries contain good amounts of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant anthocyanins. Eating blueberries may help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Raspberries are often used in desserts and serve as a very good source of fiber. One cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides:
- Calories: 64
- Fiber: 8 grams
- Vitamin C: 54% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 41% of the RDI
Raspberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can help reduce oxidative stress.
One study showed that when consumed as a drink with other berries, raspberries reduced oxidative stress caused by exercise in cyclists.
Raspberries may also increase leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full.
The most commonly consumed raspberries are the American red or European red varieties. However, there are many different types of raspberries, and black raspberries have been shown to have a number of health benefits, too.
Black raspberries may be especially good for heart health. Studies have proven that black raspberries can reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
Other studies have shown that black raspberries may reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome and reduce the size of polyps in the colon. Polyps are abnormal cell growths that can lead to cancer.
However, these studies were very small. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of black raspberries.
Summary: Raspberries are full of fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Black raspberries, in particular, may benefit heart health.
3. Goji Berries
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to China and used in traditional medicine. They have recently become very popular in the Western world.
One ounce (28 grams) of dried goji berries provides:
- Calories: 23
- Fiber: 2.2 grams
- Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 50% of the RDI
- Copper: 28% of the RDI
Goji berries also contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health.
One study of 150 elderly people found that eating 14 grams of goji berries per day prevented decline in eye health due to aging. This study, along with a second similar study, have shown that eating wolfberries can raise blood zeaxanthin levels.
Like many other berries, goji berries contain antioxidant polyphenols. One study found that eating goji berries for 30 days increased blood antioxidant levels of healthy, older Chinese people.
Another study found that drinking goji berry juice for two weeks increased metabolism and reduced waist size in overweight people.
Summary: Goji berries are particularly rich in nutrients that contribute to eye health. They also contain important antioxidants.
Strawberries are one of the most commonly consumed berries in the world and also one of the best sources of vitamin C.
One cup (152 grams) of strawberries provides:
- Calories: 49
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 150% of the RDI
- Manganese: 29% of the RDI
Strawberries are good for heart health. In fact, a study of over 93,000 women found that those who ate more than three portions of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of heart attack.
Other studies have shown that strawberries may reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol, triglycerides and oxidative stress
Strawberries can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood, such as IL-1β, IL-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP) .
Moreover, strawberries may help control blood sugar levels, which is important for preventing diabetes.
In fact, a study of over 200,000 people found that eating strawberries could reduce type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 18%.
Finally, another study showed that eating two ounces (60 grams) per day of freeze-dried strawberry powder reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory chemicals in people at high risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Summary: Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They are proven to reduce risk factors for heart disease and help control blood sugar.