Many people choose berries over other fruits, especially when it comes to snacking and choosing ice cream flavor. But very few individuals know that the consumption of whole, fresh berries can actually offer significant health benefits!
The benefits of regular consumption of berries may include improved cognitive function, reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, supported immune system and urinary tract health, increased intake of micronutrients, and balanced blood pressure and sugar levels.
This article will guide you through those health benefits, list the most popular berries that you can find in the grocery store, and show you how you can incorporate more berries into your diet.
Let’s get started!
- Which fruits are berries?
- Nutritional Value of Berries
- Health Benefits of Berries
- How much berries should you eat?
- How to eat more berries?
Which fruits are berries?
Many fruits are considered as berries, even though some of them don’t fit the popular “berry look” (small, red or purple fruits in round shape). Here’s a list of some of the most popular berries that can be found in the grocery store:
- Black grapes
- Black currant
Nutritional Value of Berries
Evidence suggests that berries are low in calories, yet are packed with many nutrients, including  :
- Vitamin C
- Antioxidants (Flavonoids and polyphenols)
Besides, berries have low glycemic load and are unlikely to cause sharp spikes in blood sugar level.
Health Benefits of Berries
Because of the highly potent nutrients, the regular consumption of berries (whole, dried, frozen fruits, or used in а smoothie), can be associated with various health benefits:
Support brain health
According to evidence presented in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the regular controlled consumption of berries may prevent age-related memory decline, impaired brain function, and neuronal damage (that can also be caused by inflammation).  In fact, some studies even suggest that berries may play a role in reversing such cognitive declines. 
This way, berries can support healthy cognitive function both in young and aging adults.
Reduce the risk of heart disease
The results of a medical study published in Nutrition Reviews Journal suggest that the anthocyanins, flavonols, vitamins, and fiber content in berries can reduce the risk of heart disease, even in predisposed patients like individuals with metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, or smokers. 
The reason for this beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system is the fact that antioxidant properties in berries reduce the damaging effect of free radicals (internal and external factors that pose a risk of cell damage) and inflammation.
In addition, a 2019 study suggests that eating 150g of blueberries (or about 1 cup) every day may reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 15% for at-risk individuals with metabolic syndrome. 
Reduced risk of cancer
Evidence shows that diet is an important factor in cancer prevention and the management of this condition. That being said, the regular consumption of berries has been evidenced to play a role in cancer prevention, due to their high antioxidant content. 
The results of a 2016 study published in The Antioxidants Journal show that berries can significantly lower the cancer-development risk, especially when it comes to gastrointestinal, breast, liver, prostate, pancreas, and lung cancer. 
Support immune system
A 2003 study, published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, suggests that consuming berry juice every day for 2 weeks can be associated with enhanced immune function in people who don’t normally eat polyphenol-rich foods. 
However, there is not enough evidence to show whether long-term berry consumption can play a role in general immune system support.
Improve urinary tract health
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the consumption of cranberries and blueberries may show a positive effect on UTIs (urinary tract infections, like cystitis) prevention. 
Even though these fruits are very unlikely to improve the symptoms of already present UTIs, they have shown a significant effect in reducing the risk of bacteria attachment to the urethra and bacterial growth.
Balance blood pressure
Recent evidence (2019 study published in the Journal of Gerontology Series A) suggests that the daily consumption of 200 grams of blueberries may positively impact the blood pressure levels of healthy individuals. The study shows a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure after 30 days of regular blueberry intake. 
Furthermore, blueberries may also have a beneficial impact on hypertension-related diseases like chronic kidney disease (CKD), metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
Balance blood sugar levels
Various medical studies suggest that the regular consumption of blueberries can be associated with improved insulin sensitivity and regulated blood sugar levels. In addition, blueberries may play a role in decreasing the risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in the long run. 
Further research is needed to evidence whether other types of berries can have the same impact on blood sugar.
How much berries should you eat?
Even though berries can be very beneficial to your health and overall wellbeing, it’s important to follow the dietary recommendations for a fruit portion: 1-1.5 cups per day.
By sticking to this guideline, you can take the optimal benefits from berries consumption!
How to eat more berries?
Even though raw berries are a delicious snack, people tend to eat very small amounts of fruit (if any). But here are some tips on how to include more berries into your diet:
- Blend them in a smoothie
- Make popsicles by freezing your homemade berry smoothie
- Add them to your breakfast bowl (like oatmeal with fresh berries)
- Top your salad with berries
- Incorporate berries in desserts and dishes that you make (like homemade muffins, or banana bread)