Apples are high in fiber, oranges are good for vitamin C, bananas are high in potassium and cranberries are good for – um – mixing with vodka?
Although most of us have heard how nutritious berries are, few can actually tell us why. So here is your crib sheet on the nutritional benefits for several of the most popular berries on the market today! Pay attention, there might be a quiz later…
Cranberries – We might as well pick up where we left off. Cranberries are great for relieving asthma attacks, preventing urinary tract infections, and reducing cholesterol. New studies have also found that cranberries may help prevent ulcers and protect the brain from neurological damage – unless it is actually mixed with vodka, then memory loss is typically a foregone conclusion!
Strawberries – Best known for being dipped in chocolate or placed on top of pancakes, the strawberry is often associated with anything but health. However, before the strawberry became the dessert staple and overly clichéd love fruit that it is today, it was best known for its powerful antioxidants and its role in preventing cancer causing molecules from forming in the human body. Research has also found strawberries play a vital role in reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s and coronary heart disease.
Raspberries – Go ahead and spell check that, I’ll wait – yes, there is a “P” in raspberries but that’s not all. These powerful berries contain a slew of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals including copper, B vitamins, and potassium. While your mother probably force fed you carrots to increase your eyesight, research has shown that three or more servings of fruit, particularly raspberries, can help delay vision loss more effectively than their crunchy orange counterparts could ever dream of.
Blueberries – These berries may be blue, but there’s nothing sad about the powerful assemblage of antioxidants and nutrients found inside. Blueberries have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of cancer, improve short term memory loss, enhance motor skills, and protect against stroke and heart disease.
Blackberries – They say that wearing the color black can help make you appear slimmer, well, so can eating these powerful berries. A single cup of blackberries provide nearly 31% of the daily recommended serving of fiber. Fiber not only aids in digestion, it also helps to curb the costly cravings that may have derailed your past diet plans. The nutrients contained in blackberries have also been shown to reduce the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays, reduce inflammation, and ease the bloating and hot flashes commonly associated with PMS and menopause.
Acai berries – The acai berry has gained notoriety over the past few years due to a popular diet based on the consumption of this fruit. Unfortunately the weight loss benefits were found inconclusive; however the acai berry still contains a wealth of antioxidants that may help delay the onset of various diseases. Several cosmetic products also contain acai oil which has been proven to be a safe alternative to the processed chemicals commonly found in facial cleansers, shampoos, and conditioners.
Grapes – Last, but not least, is everyone’s favorite berry the…Wait! Put down the bottle of pinot! Okay, yes, grapes are most commonly associated with wines, but in its purest form, the grape is a berry power packed with nutrients. Grapes have been shown to help ease migraines, constipation. and indigestion. Grapes are also used to reduce fatigue, the effects of kidney disorders, prevent cataracts, and possibly prevent the onset of breast cancer.
While there are many other berries out there, the common denominator is that they’re all rich in antioxidants and should all be incorporated into your well balanced nutrition program.
For weight loss and maintenance, try adding some fresh berries to your breakfast, lunch and mid-day snack. You can also try blending them with yogurt or mixing them into your protein shake to add some extra flavor to your post workout meal. You’ll be berry glad that you did – sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Darrell W. Butler is a Rutgers University graduate and a Parisi Speed School Certified Sports Performance Enhancement Coach. He holds Personal Trainer Certifications through ACE and NFPT and specialty nutrition and group fitness certifications including Training for Warriors, ISCA Kickboxing, Insanity, TRX and IndoRow. He has trained, managed and consulted for top fitness companies worldwide and has written for various publications including his Food, Fitness and Music Lifestyle blog DoubleFML.com.