Believe it or not, life altering superfoods are available right now in your local supermarket.
Nutritionist Elizabeth Somer adds that "the effect that diet can have on how you feel today and in the future is astounding."
Berries, and high antioxidant foods in general, have been clinically shown to protect against cardiovascular disease, boost liver & brain function and improve immunity. The most commonly accessible berries that pack a huge antioxidant punch are blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Cranberries, Strawberries, Goji Berries and Cherries.
What is an Antioxidant and how Good are They
Antioxidants are found in certain foods and may prevent some of the damage caused by free radicals by neutralising them. These include the nutrient antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals copper, zinc and selenium.
Other dietary food compounds, such as the phytochemicals in plants, are believed to have greater antioxidant effects than vitamins or minerals. These are called the non-nutrient antioxidants and include phytochemicals, such as lycopenes in tomatoes and anthocyanins found in cranberries.
A diet high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals from the body cells, and prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation.
The protective effect of antioxidants continues to be studied around the world. For instance, men who eat plenty of the antioxidant lycopene (found in tomatoes) may be less likely than other men to develop prostate cancer. Lutein, found in spinach and corn, has been linked to a lower incidence of eye lens degeneration and associated blindness in the elderly. Flavonoids, such as the tea catechins found in green tea, are believed to contribute to the low rates of heart disease in Japan.
Types of Antioxidants
- allium sulphur compounds – leeks, onions and garlic
- anthocyanins – eggplant, grapes and berries
- beta-carotene – pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach and parsley
- catechins – red wine and tea
- copper – nuts
- cryptoxanthins – red capsicum, pumpkin and mangoes
- flavonoids – tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples
- indoles – cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
- isoflavonoids – soybeans, tofu, lentils, peas
- lignans – sesame seeds, bran, whole grains and vegetables
- lutein – green, leafy vegetables like spinach, and corn
- lycopene – tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon
- manganese – nuts
- polyphenols – thyme and oregano
- selenium – whole grains
- vitamin A – sweet potatoes, and carrots
- vitamin C – oranges, blackcurrants, kiwifruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum and strawberries
- vitamin E – vegetable oils (such as wheatgerm oil), avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains
- zinc – nuts
The Sugar in These Berries can be Very Helpful
Berries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Both test-tube and human studies suggest that they may protect your cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carb meals. These studies occur in both healthy people and those with insulin sensitivity.
In one study in healthy women, eating 5 ounces (150 grams) of puréed strawberries or mixed berries with bread led to a 24–26% reduction in insulin levels, compared to consuming the bread alone.
In a six-week study, obese people with insulin resistance who drank a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than those who consumed berry-free smoothies.
They are Good for Your Skin
Berries may help reduce skin wrinkling, as their antioxidants help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to ageing.
Ellagic acid, the antioxidant in berries, appears responsible for some of the skin-related benefits of berries.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that this antioxidant may protect skin by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in sun-damaged skin. In one study, applying ellagic acid to the skin of hairless mice exposed to ultraviolet light for eight weeks decreased inflammation and helped protect collagen from damage.
How Much is a Serving of Berries
I am bias here because I consume a tonne of berries every single day. I eat frozen berries straight from the bag, or make banana berries protein smoothies. Typically, an average person would be recommended to consume 1/2 to 1 cup daily, but I suggest a little more than that.
Eat a plant based fat source with your berries to increase the antioxidant absorption.
1. Kristo AS, Klimis-Zacas D, Sikalidis AK. (19 October 2019) Protective Role of Dietary Berries in Cancer. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016;5(4):37. Retrieved 3 August 2019 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5187535/ doi:10.3390/antiox5040037
2. Stull AJ, Cash KC, Johnson WD, Champagne CM, Cefalu WT. Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. J Nutr. 2010;140(10):1764–1768. doi:10.3945/jn.110.125336
3. Torronen, R, Kolehmainen, M, Sarkkinen, E, Poutanen K, Mykkanen H, Niskanen, L. (14 April 2013) Berries Reduce Postprandial Insulin Responses to Wheat and rye Breads in Healthy Women, retrieved 1 November 2019 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23365108 DOI: 10.3945/in. 112.169771
4. Bae, JY, Choi, JS, Kang, SW, Lee, YJ, Park, J, Kang, YH (19 August 2010) Dietary Compound Ellagic Acid Alleviates Skin Wrinkle and Inflammation Induced by UV-B Irradiation, retrieved 2 November 2019 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20113347 DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.01044.x