Low-Carb Fruits With the Most and Least Sugar
If you follow a low-carb diet or are living with diabetes, you may have a complicated relationship with fruit. You may have heard you don’t need to worry about how much sugar is in fruit because it is considered natural sugar. But that will depend whether you are following a diet that counts carbs or one that relies on the glycemic index or glycemic load. Knowing which fruits are naturally lower in sugar can help you make better choices to fit your diet.
The Natural Sugar in Fruit
The FDA recommends adults eat two cups of fruit or fruit juice or a half-cup of dried fruit per day. How much fruit you eat may differ if you are following a specific low-carb diet plan or if you are limiting carbohydrates in your diet due to diabetes.
Most fruits have a low glycemic index (GI) due to the amount of fiber they contain and because their sugar is mostly fructose. However, dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, and sweetened cranberries), melons, and pineapples have a medium GI value.
Fruits contain many nutrients, and if you want to satisfy a sugar craving, fruit is the best choice. The good news is that the fruits lowest in sugar have some of the highest nutritional values, including antioxidants and other phytonutrients. On the other hand, some people digest and process sugar better than others. If you are someone who responds well to a low-carb diet, it pays to be careful.
Quick View of the Sugars in Fruits
For a quick way to think about which fruits are lowest in sugar, use these rules of thumb. Fruits are listed here from lowest to highest sugar content:
Berries: These generally are the fruits lowest in sugar, and also among the highest in antioxidants and other nutrients. Lemon and lime are also in the lowest category.
Summer Fruits: Melons, peaches, nectarines, and apricots are next in sugar-order.
Winter Fruits: Apples, pears, and sweet citrus fruit such as oranges are moderate in sugars. (lemons and limes are low in sugar).
Tropical Fruits: Pineapple, pomegranates, mangoes, bananas, and fresh figs are high in sugar (guava and papaya are lower than the others).
Dried Fruit: Dates, raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, and most other dried fruits are extremely high in sugar. Dried cranberries and blueberries would be lower, except that a lot of sugar is usually added to combat the tartness.
Here is a deeper dive into the fruits ranked from lowest to highest in sugar.
Fruits Low in Sugar (Low-Carb Fruits)
Lime (1.1 grams of sugar per fruit) and lemon (1.5 grams of sugar per fruit) are rarely eaten as-is; they are mostly converted to juice and then sweetened. But you can add a slice to your water or squeeze them on food to add their nutrients and tartness.
Rhubarb: 1.3 grams of sugar per cup. You are unlikely to find unsweetened rhubarb, so check the label before you assume what you are eating is low in sugar. But if you prepare it yourself, you can adjust the amount of added sugar or artificial sweetener.
Apricots: 3.2 grams of sugar per small apricot. They are available fresh in spring and early summer. You can enjoy them whole, skin and all. Be sure to watch your portions of dried apricots, however, as (of course) they shrink when dried.
Cranberries: 4 grams of sugar per cup. While very low in sugar naturally, they are usually sweetened when used or dried, so be wary. If you use them in recipes yourself, you can adjust the amount of sugar added.
Guavas: 4.9 grams of sugar per fruit. You can slice and eat guavas, including the rind. Some people enjoy dipping them in salty sauces. They are the low-sugar exception to the tropical fruits.
Raspberries: 5 grams of sugar per cup. Nature’s gift for those who want a low-sugar fruit, you can enjoy raspberries in every way, eaten by themselves or as a topping or ingredient. You can get them fresh in summer or find them frozen year-round.
Kiwifruit: 6 grams of sugar per kiwi. They have a mild flavor but add lovely color to a fruit salad. Also, you can eat the skin.
Fruits Containing Low to Medium Levels of Sugar
Blackberries and strawberries: 7 grams of sugar per cup. With a little more sugar than raspberries, these are excellent choices for a snack, in a fruit salad, or as an ingredient in a smoothie, sauce, or dessert.
Figs: 8 grams of sugar per medium fig. Note that this figure is for fresh figs. It may be harder to estimate for dried figs of different varieties, which can have 5 to 12 grams of sugar per fig.
Grapefruit: 8 grams of sugar per grapefruit half. You can enjoy fresh grapefruit in a fruit salad or by itself, adjusting the amount of sugar or sweetener you want to add.
Cantaloupes: 8 grams of sugar per large wedge. These are a great fruit to enjoy by themselves or in a fruit salad. They are the lowest in sugar of the melons.
Tangerines: 9 grams of sugar per medium tangerine. They have less sugar than oranges and are easy to section for fruit salads. They are also easy to pack along for lunches and snacks, with built-in portion control.
Nectarines: 11.3 grams of sugar in one small nectarine. These are delicious fruits to enjoy when ripe.
Papaya: 12 grams of sugar in one small papaya. They are lower in sugar than the other tropical fruits.
Oranges: 12 grams of sugar in a medium orange. These are great to pack along for lunches and snacks.
Honeydew: 13 grams of sugar per wedge or 14 grams per cup of honeydew balls. They make a nice addition to a fruit salad or to eat by themselves.
Cherries: 13 grams of sugar per cup. Ripe fresh cherries are a delight in the summer, but watch your portions if you are limiting sugar.
Peaches: 13 grams of sugar per medium peach. You can enjoy them by themselves or in a variety of ways in desserts, smoothies, and sauces.
Blueberries: 15 grams of sugar per cup. They are higher in sugar than other berries but packed with nutrients.
Grapes: 15 grams of sugar per cup. While they are a nice snack, you’ll need to limit portions if you are watching your sugar intake.
Fruits Containing High to Very High Levels of Sugar
Pineapple: 16 grams of sugar per slice. It’s delightful, but as a tropical fruit, it is higher in sugar.
Pears: 17 grams of sugar per medium pear. This winter fruit is high in sugar.
Bananas: 17 grams of sugar per large banana. They add a lot of sweetness to any dish.
Watermelon: 18 grams of sugar per wedge. While this melon is refreshing, it has more sugar than the others.
Apples: 19 grams of sugar in a small apple. They are easy to take along for meals and snacks, but higher in sugar than tangerines or oranges.
Pomegranates: 39 grams of sugar per pomegranate. The whole fruit has a lot of sugar, but if you limit the portion to 1 ounce, there are only 5 grams effective (net) carbs.
Mangos: 46 grams of sugar per fruit. These tantalizing tropical fruits have a lot of sugar.
Prunes (66 grams of sugar per cup), raisins (86 grams of sugar per cup) and dates (93 grams of sugar per cup) are dried fruits that are very high in sugar.
Fruit and Low-Carb Diets
Some of the popular low-carb diet plans differ, based on whether they consider glycemic index or glycemic load (South Beach, Zone), while others just look at the amount of carbohydrate (Atkins, Protein Power).
Strict low-carb diet: At less than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day, you will likely be skipping fruit or substituting it rarely for other items in your diet. Concentrate on getting your nutrients from vegetables. Diets such as Atkins and South Beach don’t allow fruit in the first phase.
Moderate low-carb diet: Those that allow 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day have room for about one fruit serving per day.
Liberal low-carb diet: If your diet allows 50 to100 grams of carbs per day, you may be able to follow the FDA guidelines, as long as you limit other sources of carbs.
Not all low-carb diets limit fruit, however. Diets like the Paleo diet, Whole30, and even Weight Watchers (although it’s not necessarily a low-carb diet) do not place a limit on fruit.
In general, if you are following a low-carb diet, you should try and eat fruits that are low in sugar, 7 grams or less per serving. When consulting the list below, which ranks fruit based on sugar content, keep in mind that some values are per cup while others are per whole fruit.
Fruit Choices When You Have Diabetes
Your fruit choices when you have diabetes depend on the diet method you are using. If you are counting carbohydrates, the are about 15 grams of carbohydrate in 1/2 cup of frozen or canned fruit or 2 tablespoons of dried fruit (such as raisins). But the serving size for fresh berries and melons are 3/4 to 1 cup so that you can enjoy more of them.
If you are using the plate method, you can add a small piece of whole fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit salad to your plate. If you are using the glycemic index to guide your choices, most fruits have a low glycemic index and are encouraged. However, melons, pineapples, and dried fruits have medium values on the GI index.
A Quick Word
You can make the best choices for fruit based on the diet you are following. If you have diabetes, you may want to consult with us to help you design an eating plan that incorporates fruit appropriately. When you are limiting sugar, fruit is a better choice for a sweet craving than reaching for a sugary snack, as long as you keep portions in mind.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dir. Of Personalize Healthcare and Preventative Medicine
Berries and Coconut Whip Cream
Is it good for YOU?
Try bringing berries into your regular diet if you have any illness or symptom, including high cholesterol, ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, brain cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, encephalitis, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, narcolepsy, osteomyelitis, Tourette’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), atherosclerosis, heart disease, ovarian cancer, atrial fibrillation, prostate cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), mystery infertility, endometriosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), acne, weight gain, bladder infections, fibroids, hypoglycemia, psoriasis, adenomas, edema, thyroid nodules, hot flashes, sensations of humming or vibration in the body, headaches, nerve pain; mineral deficiencies, frozen shoulder, panic attacks, phobias, brain lesions, jaw pain, anxiousness, scar tissue, Candida overgrowth, back pain and if you are female.
As you eat berries, reflect on the abundance of berries available year-round and how they grow on bushes low to the ground so we can easily pick them and share in them with animals also in need of nourishment. The selfless nature of berries help us to also become more generous, kind, and selfless in turn.
Beautiful and enticing, these berries-and-cream bowls are perfect for brunch, entertaining, or dessert. The coconut milk whips into a cloud of light, fluffy whipped cream, and the hint of ginger and lemon zest completes the dish. Enjoy impressing those you love with these beautiful berry bowls.
Berries and Coconut Whip Cream
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries
2 x 13.5-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Lemon juice (from about ¼ lemon)
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 leaves fresh mint, minced
Rinse the berries, mix them together, and divide them evenly into 2 bowls. Open the cans of coconut milk, being careful not to shake them. Coconut milk naturally separates in the can, leaving a thick, heavy layer on top. Scoop out the solid cream from each can and place it in a small mixing bowl. (You will need ½ cup of cream.) Discard the thin liquid that remains. Using a fork, whisk together the coconut cream, ginger, maple syrup, lemon juice, and the scraped seeds from the vanilla bean pod. Whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Scoop a generous dollop of cream over the berries in each bowl. Top with the lemon zest and mint.
Health and Wellness Associates
Beautiful Berries You Should Be Eating
Picking or eating berries is a special summertime treat. They’re so delicious and beautiful – think about rich red strawberries, juicy blueberries, and tangy cranberries. Mmm… so good.
Berries should also be a part of your diet because they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, plus they’re rich in antioxidants that can protect your cells from free-radical damage. And best of all, they’re low in calories, so they’re perfect for weight-watching diets.
Beautiful, delicious, and good for you. Read on to learn more about these perfect nutritional gems.
Strawberries are luscious berries that are easy to find in every grocery store year round. They’re also inexpensive and loaded with good nutrition.
One cup of strawberries contains over 100 milligrams of vitamin C, almost as much as a cup of orange juice. Strawberries also have calcium, magnesium, folate, and potassium. And they’re low in calories – one cup of strawberries has only 53 calories.
Keep them healthy by keeping them simple. Serve sliced berries with a dab of whipped cream and almond slivers. Dip large strawberries in chocolate for a nutritious snack that feels totally decadent.
Raspberries are beautiful berries that are best during the summer months when they’re at their peak and most affordable. They’re delicate and don’t keep very long, so use them quickly. Most raspberries are red, but you might find gold or black raspberries, too.
Nutrition wise, raspberries are rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Plus, they’re low in calories – one cup of raspberries has 64 calories.
Blueberries seem to make it to the top of almost every superfoods list. Probably because they’re chock full of antioxidants. Blueberries are available year-round, but they’re at their best during the summer months.
They’re also good for plenty of nutrients – one cup of blueberries has lots of potassium and almost 4 grams of fiber. You’ll also get a good dose of vitamin C and only 83 calories.
Fresh red or black currants may not be easy to find fresh, but you can find dried currants year-round. Probably the best way to get a hold of fresh currants is to visit farmers markets in late spring.
Currants are high in potassium, calcium, and vitamin C, and they’re rich in fiber. One cup of fresh raw currants has around 60 calories.
If you find fresh currants, buy plenty and freeze them.
Blackberries look like large black raspberries, and they have a tangier flavor. They’re quite good for you because they’re high in calcium, vitamin C, and potassium, plus one cup of blackberries has over 7 grams of fiber about 60 calories. And like all berries, they’re loaded with antioxidants.
Blackberries are delicious in smoothies or served with a bit of creme fraiche.
Tart but tasty lingonberries are best known in Scandinavian recipes and are often used to make preserves and juices. Lingonberry jam isn’t too hard to find but look for frozen lingonberries online.
Lingonberries are low in calories (although they usually need some sugar to overcome the tartness). They’re also high in vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber.
Try some lingonberry jam and brunost (brown cheese) on a slice of pumpernickel bread.
Bilberries look a lot like blueberries, but they’re not. Bilberries are wild berries that come from the British Isles, so they’re most common in British recipes. Bilberries are also prized for their health benefits due to their antioxidant content.
Fresh bilberries may be difficult to find, but you can find dried bilberries online that make a tasty and healthy snack.
Cranberries are native to North America and they’re most commonly served during the holidays. It’s fairly easy to find fresh or frozen cranberries in most grocery stores, plus there are lots of brands of cranberry juice.
As far as nutrition and health, cranberries are high in vitamin C and they have lots of antioxidants. They also contain compounds that may help prevent bladder infections.
Cranberries are very tart so most recipes call for some sugar but there are some savory recipes available.
Elderberries are good for you.
Elderberries are small deep purple berries and quite tasty. They’re probably most associated with elderberry wine and elderberry syrup that’s used in cough syrups and cold tonics. It’s not easy to find elderberries in stores, but they may show up at local farmers markets. Or you might grow your own elderberries.
Elderberries are high in vitamin C, calcium, and potassium, and very high in vitamin A and fiber.
11 What About Cherries?
Cherries are good for your diet.
Technically, cherries aren’t berries because they have inedible pits, but these little red fruits are used in a similar fashion.
Cherries contain several nutrients and antioxidants, and dark cherries are an excellent source of melatonin – similar to the hormone that increases in your body as you get sleepy. In fact, nibbling on a small bowlful of cherries before bedtime just might help you sleep better.
Serve pitted cherries with plain Greek yogurt or a tart frozen yogurt. Or add cherries to a smoothie with bananas, strawberries, or other fruits.
Health and Wellness Associates
Which Berries Are Best?
What would the world be like without the fresh, delicious flavors, colors and textures that berries provide to your diet?
More specifically, what would it be like if berries tasted good but didn’t provide all the nutrients they do? Chances are we wouldn’t be as healthy and, surprisingly, many of their health benefits come as a package deal with their flavors and even their vibrant colors.1
Berries are loaded with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that impart a host of health advantages. Some of these benefits are fairly recent scientific discoveries, and some of the berries themselves are relatively unfamiliar on the North American landscape.
All berries contain similar amounts of vitamin C, but a single cup of strawberries has 150 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake (RDI).2 Additionally, berries are relatively low in calories; one cup of strawberries contains 49, while blueberries have 84.3
Nearly anyone can eat berries in moderation, including those on a vegetarian, vegan, paleo or Mediterranean diet, provided it’s actually fruit with no additives such as sugar, and you pay attention to the fructose amounts you’re ingesting.
Super Antioxidant Power in Berries
One of the most game-changing properties of berries is their antioxidant power, which helps keep free radicals in check and fights inflammation.4 Authority Nutrition explains:
“Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur as a normal byproduct of metabolism. It’s important to have a small amount of free radicals in your body to help defend against bacteria and viruses.
However, free radicals can also damage your cells when present in excessive amounts. Antioxidants can help neutralize these compounds.”5
One study identified nutritional stress as one of the most significant negatives in terms of your health. The lack or complete absence of some nutrients depends on several factors, but it will definitely influence your physiological condition.
The damaging effects of insufficient nutrients can involve your adrenal gland function and increase release of catecholamines in your blood with a simultaneous inhibition of insulin production in your pancreas.6
(Dictionary.com says catecholamines are neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and dopamine, which affect the nervous system.7)
Some of the most important antioxidants in berries are anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol, which studies say help protect your cells and fight off disease.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries, for instance, are known as some of the world’s best dietary sources of bioactive compounds, aka BAC.8
These antioxidant compounds can be heart-protective in your body (when you eat them in beneficial amounts) and can be thanked for helping to alleviate and prevent such diseases and disorders as neurodegeneration, diabetes, inflammation and even cancer.9
Black, Red and Blue Berries Fight Oxidative Stress
Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries have been tapped for their ability to lower oxidative stress, which News Medical calls “an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.”10 One study says:
“Oxidative stress is a normal phenomenon in the body (which) can also be viewed as an imbalance between the pro-oxidants and antioxidants in the body.
…The harmful effect of free ROS (reactive oxygen species) and RNS (reactive nitrogen species) radicals causing potential biological damage is termed oxidative stress.
The primitive steps in development of cancer, mutation and ageing are the result of oxidative damage to the DNA in a cell. A list of oxidized DNA products has been identified currently which can lead to mutation and cancer.”11
Another study indicated that blueberries, blackberries and raspberries exert the most antioxidant energy of the most common fruits, with the exception of pomegranates.12
Further, blueberries are an example of a food that contains antioxidants associated with cognitive improvement, along with reductions in neurodegenerative oxidative stress.
One study in Italy revealed that about 2 cups of blueberries can protect against DNA damage. Ten young volunteers were given that amount of blueberries (or a “placebo” of sorts). Blood tests done before and afterward were evaluated, and the blueberry group showed significantly reduced DNA damage within one hour.13
In another review, 31 healthy people ate about the same amount of strawberry purée daily for 30 days, and their oxidants and anti-oxidants leveled out. One pro-oxidant marker was reduced by 38 percent.14
Berries Have Multiple Benefits for Your Whole Body
There are numerous advantages to eating berries, as clinical studies demonstrate:
- They may improve your blood sugar and insulin response, even with high-carb foods.
One study involved females who ate bread (which causes high glucose and insulin responses) with strawberries, bilberries or lingonberries, versus raspberries, cloudberries or chokeberries, resulting in a 24- to 26-percent drop in insulin levels.15
- Berries come with lots of fiber, including insoluble fiber, which slows the rate at which food moves through your colon and in turn diminishes hunger. This may decrease calorie intake16 and help you absorb up to 130 fewer calories per day.17
- They’re potentially therapeutic for your skin, reducing wrinkles and skin damage from free radicals18 (particularly ellagic acid) and may block the production of enzymes that break down collagen.19
- Berries may protect against cancer, due to the anthocyanin, ellagic acid and resveratrol20 content. Studies showed raspberries to have a positive effect on colon cancer patients, and strawberries to have beneficial effects against liver cancer cells.21
- Better heart health and artery function are additional benefits. Endothelial cells, which line your blood vessels, help control blood pressure and prevent blood from clotting. Inflammation can damage them, but berries were shown to improve endothelial function in healthy and unhealthy patients.22
Cranberries, acai berries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are the ones identified as being the healthiest for women’s hearts in particular, as they contain high amounts of polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins.23
Less Familiar Berries Also Have Benefits
There are arguably hundreds of varieties of berries throughout the world, and the majority have amazing health benefits, as shown below:
Tart and full of flavor, tiny maqui berries are found growing wild in southern Chile.
They have also been used for millennia therapeutically, mostly to combat inflammation, which modern studies have supported.24
They’re noted for containing anthocyanins and polyphenols, as well as vitamin C, iron, calcium and potassium.
Tangy camu camu berries, the size of large grapes, are grown on a bush in the Amazon.
They’re known for fighting colds and flu due to their plentiful vitamin C content; reportedly as much as 60 times more than an orange.25
Studies show they’re good for your eyes, skin, gums and brain function and have multiple other benefits.
Goldenberries are named for their color and usually come in the dried variety rather than fresh in the U.S.
They’re known for being filling, possibly helping you to eat less, and regulating your metabolism.
Rich in fiber as well as protein and B vitamins, they also contain lots of anti-inflammatory antioxidants.26
Besides being associated with cardiovascular health,27 acai berries from the Amazon rainforest have 10 times the antioxidant vitamins as grapes and twice that of blueberries.
Acerola cherries are found in regions such as South America, Southern Mexico and Asia.
They contain high amounts of vitamin C — nine times the amount found in an orange and more than any other food source.
They’re low calorie and contain high amounts of beta-carotene and flavonoids when they remain intact.28
Pacific Island noni berries have a long history of traditional medical uses, from urinary tract infections to menstrual cramps and diabetes to liver disease.
It contains vitamins C, B3 (niacin) and A, calcium, iron and potassium.
Boysenberries, a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry or loganberry, have their own set of nutritional advantages.
While they have a fair amount of carbohydrates in every 1-cup serving, they’re loaded with fiber, minerals, vitamins and 2.5 grams of protein.29
Recent reports have put acai berries in the superfood category, as they too, are rich in anthocyanins, and are known for having high antioxidant activity and cell-protective qualities.30
They also contain 19 amino acids and fatty acids making them good for your heart and neuron protective.31
Bilberries are smaller than blueberries but are otherwise similar, and they contain impressive amounts of antioxidant anthocyanins.
They’re known for their ability to fight diabetes32 and enhance night vision, as well as protect your vision and even improve symptoms of cataracts and macular degeneration.33
The aronia, aka black chokeberry, is native to the eastern U.S., as well as Europe.
About the size of a large blueberry, it contains five times the amount of flavonoids and anthocyanins compared to cranberry juice, with action related to cervical tumor cells.34
While aronia is not palatable due to its bitter flavor (hence the pseudonym), it’s popular as a tea and dessert ingredient nonetheless.
Bright red goji berries (aka wolf berries) are grown in Nepal and Tibet and have had a long run in traditional medicinal therapies linked to longevity, strength, mood and sexual vigor.
Studies show goji berries may be beneficial for diabetes, be heart protective, improve sexual function and benefit both your brain and vision.35
Gooseberries, known for their puckery-sour taste, were a favorite for the tart pies your grandmother used to make.
Visually unlike most other berries, with their translucent skin and ribbed flesh, gooseberries contain lots of fiber, potassium and 70 percent of the vitamin C you need in one day.
One study found them to be potentially useful in cancer treatment and prevention.36
Keep in Mind the Fructose Contained in Berries
Fruit can be advantageous for your health, but it’s important to bear in mind that excess amounts of fructose are anything but good for you. The health benefits are available only when it’s the whole fruit (even if it’s pureed) and nothing but the fruit. It should go without saying, but fruit juices, canned varieties and snacks such as fruit roll-ups are more often than not laced with loads of sugar, or even worse, high-fructose corn syrup.
Check food labels to make sure you’re not bringing a toxic substance into your home for your family to consume, and limit your intake of fructose, including that from fresh fruit, to 15 to 25 grams per day, depending on your current health status. Whenever possible, choose organic, whether you’re buying berries or other fruits and vegetables.
Health and Wellness Associates
Fruits that Fight Heart Disease
The next time you are at the grocery store, seek out a selection of colorful berries to add to your shopping cart. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are an easy, delicious way to protect your health. Berries can be found year-round, either fresh or frozen – you can even grow your own, and including them in your diet is effortless. They taste great and can be eaten for breakfast in oatmeal or added to a smoothie, tossed into a salad at lunch, or blended into a nutritious “nice” cream for dessert after dinner.
These vibrant, health-promoting fruits are rich in fiber and cardioprotective antioxidant phytochemicals. Antioxidants, both from the diet and naturally produced by the body, are critical for your health as they protect against oxidation and minimize damage to your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules with unpaired electrons that can potentially damage genetic material and other cellular components. Accumulated free radical damage over time ages the body and contributes to chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants slow or stop the reactions of free radicals, neutralizing them.
Berries: More than Antioxidants
Some dietary antioxidants, like vitamin C, work in the body primarily as antioxidants. The antioxidants in berries are different: The major antioxidant phytochemicals in berries are anthocyanins, in the class of flavonoids. These phytochemicals are concentrated in the skins of berries, give rise to their deep colors, are thought to have a number of benefits that are unrelated to direct antioxidant effects.
Flavonoids do have antioxidant activity; however, their most powerful health benefits are thought to be due to their other biological effects. Berries and their flavonoids have been found to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol which helps prevent the production of atherosclerotic plaque, increase blood antioxidant capacity, decrease adhesion of inflammatory cells to vessel walls, and improve blood pressure regulation.
Higher anthocyanin and berry consumption is associated with lowering an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein, suggesting that berries may curb inflammation. The phytochemicals in berries also may enhance nitric oxide production in blood vessels, which helps to properly regulate blood pressure. Studies have shown that high flavonoid intake is associated with an up to 45 percent reduction in risk of coronary heart disease. Nurses’ Health Study II data showed that young and middle-aged women who ate three or more weekly servings of blueberries or strawberries had a 34 percent reduction in heart attack risk compared to those who consumed a smaller amount of berries over the 18-year follow-up period. Furthermore, berries also have anti-cancer effects and provide protection against diabetes and cognitive decline with aging.
Berries Are Superfoods
Long-term studies measuring berry or flavonoid consumption suggest that all these cardiovascular benefits of berries add up to longevity value, according to the reduced risk of all-cause mortality observed in these studies.
Berries are the fruits with the highest nutrient-to-calorie ratio and an important component of a high-nutrient diet; I consider them to be superfoods. Along with greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, and seeds, berries . These are foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant portion of your diet to promote health and longevity and to fight chronic disease.
One thing is for sure: It is clear these small packages of sweetly tart fruits have an amazing capacity to benefit our health. They are an important component of a high-nutrient diet. Eat some berries daily to provide your body with protection against free radicals, inflammation, heart disease, and cancers.
Health and Wellness Associates