Top 11 Most Nutritious BerriesFayyaz Alam
There’s no doubt that berries are delicious. They are also a great source of everything nice (in a healthy way) which is why they are often listed as superfoods. Berries are packed with nutrients and amazing benefits that everyone can enjoy, especially the health benefits of elderberry. Yes, Nutritious Berries are small, colorful, sometimes rare, sometimes a bit costly, but health and nutrition experts say it’s wise to incorporate these nutrient-rich foods into your diet.
So, before you go hunting for the nearest berries, it’s vital you know who’s who in the berry world. Yes, I just said they are all a ball of nutrients but some more than most. Like everyone else, you would want to know which berries have more to offer your body.
Read on to dig into the top 11 berries based on nutrition, antioxidant content, and health healing benefits, including the health benefits of elderberry. The berries have also been ranked based on their ORAC values.
But first, a little detour to help you gain perspective.
What are antioxidants?
We have mentioned this word a few times already, and that probably tells you it is something important. Antioxidants are compounds that fight diseases in the body. They help to repair stress in the body and prevent damage to the cells caused by free radicals. There are many different known types of antioxidants that have different functions and perform in their own unique ways in the body. In general, antioxidants are important to a healthy body and are usually found in fruits, vegetables, and spices.
What is ORAC?
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a unit of measurement used for the valuation of antioxidant content and developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA in conjunction with National Institute of Health and National Institute of Aging. The ORAC value is expressed in micromole Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams or µmol TE/100g. While it is only one of the ways to evaluate of the total antioxidant content TAC, it is considered by scientists to be the more preferable method due to its biological relevance to in vivo (within living organism) antioxidant efficacy.
So, now the top 11 berries!
11. Noni Berries
They are green and kind of seem to have eyes on them, but they are great for health and nutrition. Noni berry is commonly used as herbal remedy. It is used to treat diabetes, menstrual cramps, urinary infections, and bowel issues. It is also used topically. The nutritional content of the noni berry includes a good amount of potassium, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. The rich source of vitamin C allows noni berry to be highly beneficial to the skin. The antioxidants in this ball of green deliciousness include iridoids, vitamin C, and betacarotene. Noni berries are especially helpful to smokers to help support heart health. There are studies that show that noni berries help to relieve pain with arthritis, improve your body’s endurance during exercise, and enhance the function of the immune system.
Noni berries are also high in sugar which makes it a berry to avoid for people with certain sugar-related conditions.
ORAC Value- 800
10. Red Currants
Red currants are really pretty at a glance. They are also widely used in kitchens and restaurants than most berries. While you may already have red currant in your diet without much thought, it can be enlightening to learn the all-around benefits of this berry. A cup of red currants contains 63 calories and less than a single gram of fat. It is helpful for weight loss and maintaining a fit body. Red currants are active in lowering sugar and cholesterol levels, improving skin health, boosting immunity, relieving constipation, iron for the blood, and heart health. Red currants are particularly rich in magnesium, iron, and potassium, recommended daily amounts of vitamin C & K, and phytochemicals. Vitamin C in red currants plays a vital antioxidant role in the respiratory tract. This allows red currants to help in relieving asthmatics and again the anti-histamine properties of vitamin C in red currants helps with allergies.
ORAC Value – 3387
Who doesn’t know and love strawberries? But they are more than a popular, easily available, tasty treat. First, it’s good to know that strawberries are not actually true berries because they are the overgrown or large receptacle of a flower. However, following their discovery and similarity to others, they began to be cultivated in this way and referred to as berries.
Strawberry is chock full of nutrients like vitamins and fiber, and it contains a good amount of antioxidant called polyphenols. Strawberries contain no fats, sodium, or cholesterol. They are also low on calories. They are rich in phytochemicals like anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin, and more. They come highly ranked among berries as a dietary source of polyphenols. The health benefits of strawberries include preventing inflammation and oxidative stress, reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Other benefits of strawberries are controlling blood sugar, reducing wrinkles, and improving vision.
ORAC Value – 4302
8. Goji Berries
You find these berries growing mostly in Asia, China to be precise. They have to be cooked before consumption and are steadily increasing in popularity based on their benefits. Goji berries play a major role in improving eye health. But that’s not what has coined them a spot in the superfoods list. Goji berries have a high nutritional value with 46% of carbohydrates, 13% of protein, 16% of dietary fiber, and 1.5% of fat. They have high antioxidant content and equally contain minerals and vitamins – thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, copper, magnesium, and selenium. Their biological activity is due to components like phenolics, carotenoids, and polysaccharides. Due to the rich medical composition of goji berries, they benefit health by impacting vision, kidney and liver health, diabetes, cancer, skin, sugar level, athletic performance, sleep, and so on.
ORAC Value – 4302
Blueberries always make the top of any superfoods list and it might be hard to understand if that’s because blueberries are available all year round which makes them common or because of its antioxidant content. I guess we will find out. Blueberries offer you almost everything. They contain a balanced amount of everything nutritious and healthy and are a great addition to a regular diet. To start with blueberries are chock full of anthocyanin and vitamin K. This makes blueberries effective helping wounds heal, promote blood clotting, and even healthy bones. They contain lots of potassium and a good amount of fiber and calories. A cup of blueberry provides you with the recommended daily amount of vitamin C to be consumed. Several studies support that an increase in the intake of blueberries reduces the risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline associated with ageing, and much more.
ORAC Value – 4669
6. Red Raspberries
Red raspberries were often used in the past as throat gargles and morning sickness remedies. Now their use has evolved due to unique properties. Red raspberries also contain anthocyanin but not in the high amounts of black raspberries. Both raspberries also contribute to fighting cancer. Red raspberries contribute to fighting age-related mental decline. They contain large amounts of vitamin C and are now being used in countries like Japan as a weight loss supplement.
ORAC Value – 5065
They make you think of the holidays because that is when they are most recognized. Cranberries are incredibly nutritious and offer high amounts of carbs and fiber. They also contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Despite being of such a rich nutritional value, many people don’t know how beneficial cranberries are. Hence, recent studies on this fruit have discovered that they contain over two dozen of antioxidant phytonutrient. Cranberries play a role in treating Urinary Tract Infection UTIs, although the mechanism is unknown. They are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and aid digestion.
Cranberries may not fight cancer as well as some top players on this list, but studies also show they can slow its progression. The antibacterial properties of cranberries influence oral health and many diseases towards recovery.
Cranberries contain a high amount of vitamin C and fiber, but the fiber is lost when the berries are juiced. It also has a decent amount of calories.
ORAC Value – 9090
4. Black Raspberries
It’s okay if you never knew that raspberries come in a variety of color apart from red. Red raspberries are the most common and easily available, and although the raspberries are very similar, there are significant nutritional differences that can guide your next purchase.
Black raspberries are recognized this way because they have extremely high antioxidant levels. They contain one of the highest amounts of anthocyanin, which gives them the pitch-black color. With a Total Phenolic Content TPC of 980 mg GAE/100g and Total Anthocyanin Content of 687 mg/100g, it is one of the most portent berries. Black raspberries are linked with improved vision, memory retention, cardiovascular health, and reduced risk of hypertension, especially in old age. It equally contains carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
There have been conflicting data as far the antioxidant content based on ORAC. Research has shown ORAC value as low as 7720 and as high as 19220. Here we assume an average in our evaluation.
ORAC Value – 13470
3. Health Benefits of Elderberry
Like other berries, elderberries look terribly appealing. They are small, deep purple berries, rare, and often associated with syrups. You would easily find it has been used to treat cold and flu. Studies have shown this to be true and that elderberries offer several other benefits as well. These berries contain a low amount of calories, but beef up in vitamins (including A, C, E, B1, B2, B6, and B9), fiber, and antioxidants. Studies have been carried out on the health benefits of elderberry to prove just how special it is. Elderflowers which are flowers of the berry are also recognized for their benefits. In these studies, elderberries have been confirmed to be antidepressant, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune–modulating. Their phytochemicals are carotenoids, phytosterols, and polyphenols.
The studies also showed that elderberries are a great source of the antioxidant, anthocyanins. Elderberries are not only nutritious but also play a role in the medical industry for respiratory supplementation, cardiovascular health, and mental health in relation to how these faculties are affected during travel.
When it comes to fighting flu, elderberry has been used for this for years. However, research was also conducted to prove that the antiviral properties of elderberries alongside its phytochemical content were effective in stopping viral infection of cells.
Other health benefits of elderberry are treating acne and reducing wrinkles. Trace elements like copper, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are equally present.
Elderberries have a TPC of 1950 mg GAE/100g and Total Anthocyanin Content of 1375 mg/100g.
Elderberries are safer for consumption when cooked. You can also drizzle elderberry syrup over yogurt or in a smoothie.
ORAC Value – 14697
2. Aronia Berries
This berry is often described as a seasonal beauty. Aronia berries (also known as chokeberries) are small, dark-colored berries that are highly recognized for their antioxidant content. While these berries may look tasty, they are hardly eaten raw because they cause strong dryness of the mouth. They are available in frozen, powder, and dried forms and are usually included in juices, syrup, teas, wines, jams, and even jellies.
Aronia berries like elderberries have low calorie content. In fact, it has only 13 calories per 28 grams of aronia berries. They are, however, high in fiber, vitamins, and some minerals. Aronia berry is a rich source of polyphenols. Polyphenol is a group of antioxidants that includes others like anthocyanins and flavanols. In studies carried out, this berry exhibits significant anticarcinogenic and antidiabetic properties. The berries contribute to reducing risk of heart diseases, organ failure, and an improved immune system.
Aronia berries have the highest known Total Phenolic Content TPC and Total Anthocyanin Content. These berries have a TPC of 2010 mg GAE/100g and a Total Anthocyanin Content of 1480 mg/100g.
Aronia berry contains a full range of vitamins such as Vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, K, and Niacin and minerals such as sodium, potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
ORAC Value- 16062
1. Acai Berries*
These berries are grown from acai palm trees and are one of the most nutritious berries around. In 2008, acai berries created quite the frenzy when television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz talked about their amazing nature on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Suddenly everyone wanted acai berries and several shakes, supplements, and products toppled into the market claiming to contain the famous acai berry but they actually didn’t. Wondering what the chaos was all about? Well, I will enlighten you in a second.
Studies have shown that acai berries can play a role in enhancing your immune system to fight microbes and illnesses like leukemia Acai berries specifically contain the antioxidant known as anthocyanin which is strongly linked to exciting health benefits. Anthocyanin improves memory, offers protection from oxidative stress, and reduces the risk of a heart attack by 32%, and so on. Multiple studies have confirmed the anticarcinogenic properties of anthocyanin but the mechanism is unknown.
Acai berries contain a good amount of protein, healthy fat, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. It has anti-inflammatory properties and even assists the elimination of skin problems like acne. The berry speeds up the healing of wounds while removing toxins and is a good addition to an athlete’s diet.
Acai berry contains 19 amino acids, 33 different antioxidants – 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries, a full range of vitamins including A, C, E, B1, B2, and B3, fiber, calories, proteins, minerals like calcium, and healthy fat.
While Acai berries have the highest ORAC of all berries, however, the berries only boast a Total Phenolic Content TPC of 1390 mg GAE/100g and Total Anthocyanin Content of 410 mg/100g.
ORAC Value – 102700
While it may be tempting to incorporate only the berries that top the charts, it is worthwhile to consume a diverse variety of colorful berries. There are variety of different known classes and subclasses of antioxidants and nutrients, and there may be more to be discovered. Each antioxidant has its own uniqueness and therapeutic function. It is recommended to eat your antioxidants, however, in cases of nutrient deficiency, disease management, or optimal health, quality supplementation and higher dosages should be considered. Always consume organic, non-gmo, and low-pesticide containing berries in order to potentiate the healing effect. Consult your healthcare professional when introducing a supplement with pre-existing medical conditions or when on prescribed medications.
*Acai Berry ORAC value was measured for the freeze-dried powder while all the other berries were measured raw or fresh weight or frozen fresh. Therefore, a proper comparison is questionable.
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