Berries are a superfood rich with nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants, per The Washington Post. A daily dose of berries can benefit your heart, skin and mental health.
“On average, people who eat more berries seem to live a little bit longer,” Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Washington Post. Rimm suggested eating a cup of berries every day to reap their health benefits.
Here’s a look at what defines a superfood, and the health benefits eating berries can bring.
What defines a superfood?
Superfoods are a category of foods that are rich with nutrients such as antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are often also packed with fiber, protein and healthy fats.
“Superfoods help promote health by increasing your immune function and decreasing your chance of disease prevention or progression,” registered dietitian Beth Czerwony told the Cleveland Health Clinic.
1. Strawberries and blueberries are good for your heart
Strawberries and blueberries help maintain a healthy heart.
A 2013 study published in the journal Circulation found that regular consumption of blueberries and strawberries correlated with significant lower risk of heart attack. Researchers followed more than 90,000 women over an 18-year period. The women who ate these berries a few times a week had 34% lower risk of heart attack than the women who ate these berries once a month or less.
Another study, published in the 2019 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined the impact of eating an equivalent of one cup of blueberries per day for six months. Researchers found that the daily consumption of blueberries improves heart health in overweight and obese adults.
2. Raspberries are an excellent source of fiber
Fiber is vital to a balanced diet, and raspberries offer an excellent source of fiber. One cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber, which is roughly a third of recommended daily fiber intake for adults, per the Mayo Clinic.
Eating fiber rich foods boasts health benefits such as helping control blood sugar levels and maintaining bowel health. But most U.S. adults don’t eat enough of it.
“Dietary fiber is an essential part of a healthful diet. It is crucial for keeping the gut healthy and reducing the risk of chronic health conditions,” Medical News Today wrote.
“Most people in the United States do not get enough fiber from their diets. According to some estimates, only 5% of the population meet the adequate intake recommendations.”
An analysis of nearly 250 studies found that individuals who ate the most fiber decreased their risk of dying from stroke, type 2 diabetes, cardiac disease or colon cancer by 16% to 24%, compared to those who ate less fiber, per Harvard Health Publishing.
Adding a daily handful or two of raspberries to your diet is an easy and effective way to increase your daily fiber intake. Raspberries are low carb and high fiber, but they are packed with other nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin C and manganese, Healthline reported.
3. Blueberries relieve anxiety and depression
Blueberries are rich with antioxidants, which are known to help relieve anxiety and ease feelings of depression, per WebMD.
A 2020 study found that over the course of a month, adolescents who consumed wild blueberry supplements self-reported lower symptoms of depression.
Several studies (including one in 2020 and one in 2021) have found that daily consumption of vegetables and fruits — like blueberries — is linked to improved mental well-being. A diet balanced with fruits, berries and vegetables helps prevent symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As a superfood, blueberries are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and boast a variety of health benefits, the Deseret News previously reported.
4. Berries improve brain function
Berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are packed with flavonoids, which are known to help improve memory and slow age-related cognitive decline, reports Scientific American.
“Adding a handful of berries to the diet each day is one of the first and easiest changes I recommend to those looking to improve their brain health,” Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told the American Association of Retired Persons.
Research from King’s College London found that just a handful of wild blueberries a day could improve brain function. Over the course of 12 weeks, researchers found that individuals who consumed wild blueberry powder experienced improved memory and more accuracy on attention tasks.
“It’s clear from this study that consuming wild blueberries is beneficial to cognitive function,” said professor Claire Williams, chair of the Neuroscience Department for University of Reading, per King’s College.
“The group who had the wild blueberry powder showed signs of better memory and greater mental flexibility when completing cognitive tasks.”
5. Berries may help prevent skin wrinkling
Eating berries on the regular may prevent skin wrinkling and help maintain a youthful glow, according to Healthline. Berries are rich with antioxidants, which help prevent free radicals — a leading cause of skin damage and wrinkling.
Research is still limited, but it seems that ellagic acid, which is found in fruits and berries, is largely responsible for skin benefits related to regular berry consumption, per Healthline.