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Berries--The Best Overall Fruits for Your Health

September 24, 2003 | 49,170 views
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By Dr. Joseph Mercola
     with Rachael Droege

Berries are among the best fruits on the planet. Not only do they taste great, but they are densely packed with a variety of potent phytochemicals that can do wonders to normalize and improve health. They are also high in fiber and relatively low in sugar, so they won’t stimulate severe insulin swings if eaten in moderation.

The best way to eat berries is in their raw, natural state, as heating and freezing can damage antioxidants. However, some antioxidants will remain even after heating or freezing.

Different types of berries do contain varying levels of nutrients, and can therefore be more beneficial for certain types of illness. You can find out the details of some of the most common and most nutritious berries--blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries--below.

Blueberries

Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have ranked blueberries #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. They contain powerful phytochemicals, such as anthocyanin, which is the pigment that gives blueberries their color.

Blueberries are associated with numerous health benefits including protection against urinary-tract infections, cancer, age-related health conditions and brain damage from strokes. They may also reduce the build-up of so-called "bad" cholesterol, which contributes to heart disease and stroke.

The European blueberry, bilberry, is also known to prevent and even reverse the most common cause of blindness, macular degeneration.

Additionally, blueberries contain vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium, and are high in fiber and low in calories.

Cranberries

Along with their well-known usefulness in treating urinary-tract infections, cranberries also protect against cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Cranberries are rich in polyphenols, a potent antioxidant, and researchers have found that they may inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells and reduce the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers. They have also been found to decrease levels of total cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol in animals.

Many people associate cranberries with store-bought cranberry juice. I would not use this as your source of cranberries, however, as the juice is high in sugar that will weaken your immune system and overall health. You can find pure cranberry juice, but it tends to be expensive and doesn’t taste too great.

To achieve the maximum health benefits, it’s best to eat whole, raw cranberries. They taste especially great when added to vegetable juice.

Strawberries

Strawberries came in second to blueberries in the USDA’s analysis of antioxidant capacity of 40 fruits and vegetables. They are also rich in dietary fiber and manganese, and contain more vitamin C than any other berry (more than any other berry).

Among strawberries’ antioxidants are anthocynanins and ellagic acid, a phytochemical that has been shown to fight carcinogens. Antioxidant compounds found in strawberries may also prevent the oxidation of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and thereby help fight the development of heart disease.

Strawberries are also high in folic acid, dietary fiber and potassium.

Raspberries

Raspberries are rich in anthocyanins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as ellagic, coumaric and ferulic acid. They also contain calcium, vitamins such as A, C, E, fiber and folic acid.

Some of the fiber in raspberries is soluble fiber in the form of pectin, which lowers cholesterol. Raspberries have also been found to protect against esophageal cancer and other cancers.

Please note that fruit juices should be avoided as they contain a large amount of fructose. Each glass of juice, even those with no sugar added, has more sugar than a glass of soda. Although the sugar it contains is fructose, it will still negatively affect your immune system.

As with all fruits, I do recommend that you eat berries in moderation. If you eat too many berries the carbohydrate will increase your insulin levels. This is partially compensated for by the fiber in the whole fruit, which helps delay the absorption of sugar.

Eating small amounts of whole fruits will not provide tremendous amounts of the natural sugar fructose, however, and therefore should not be a problem for most people.

Related Articles:
Berries: A Great Source of Plant Antioxidants

Diet Help for Urinary Tract Infections

Raspberries Helpful for Throat Cancer

Blueberry Hamburgers for Your Health

Blueberry Glut Might Benefit Your Brain!

Berries May Fight Arterial Disease

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back.  That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.


Donate Today!

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico