Blacker the berry, better the benefits
I know by now you've heard of the ole saying "the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” Well, I’m not sure about "sweeter” but new research shows that it may be something to the darker piece of the saying. Research has shown that darker berries may very well be healthier. Purple berries such as elderberry, black currant, and chokeberry, have as much as 50 percent more of the antioxidants known as flavonoids than other berries.
Berries are known to have the highest concentration of antioxidants among all fruits and vegetables, and there have been studies touting the benefits of cranberries and blueberries, but little research has been done on their dark-colored counterparts. So researchers analyzed the antioxidant content of several varieties, including black currants, red currants, gooseberries, chokeberries, and elderberries. They measured two classes of antioxidants found in the purple berries, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins.
The results showed that chokeberries were the richest in antioxidants, with 1,480 mg of anthocyanin concentration per 100 grams of fresh berries. Gooseberries had the lowest.
While these berries may not be as common as blueberries or strawberries, that could change as word gets out of the health benefits of the dark-skinned varieties. In the meantime, you may be able to find them in health food stores or at local farmers’ markets.
With that said, here’s three berries you should try to eat every day, if not every day, then try to make them a part of your weekly routine:
1. Blueberries – The blueberry is an antioxidant powerhouse. That deep blue color is related to high amounts of phytonutrients called anthocyanidins. These phytonutrients aid in the process of neutralizing free radical damage in our cells. Overtime, the collagen matrix of our tissues and cells begins to deteriorate. Blueberries help to keep this from happening, with a high capacity for free-radical neutralization.
A recent study from Tufts University analyzed over 50 common fruits and vegetables for hard scientific data on their antioxidant capabilities. Blueberries consistently ranked at the top of this list.
2. Blackberries – Blackberries are more than just powerful antioxidants. They are also extremely high in some of the highest forms of chronic disease and cancer-fighting compounds: vitamins C, E, and ellagic acid. They also hold high levels the soluble fiber known as pectin, a substance that studies link to lowered levels of cholesterol. Related to the rose, lab studies on these thorny-bushed berries at Ohio State University showed the ability to stop tumor formation in the oral cavity, as well as proliferation of colon cancer cells.
3. Cherries – Cherries are high in quercetin and ellagic acid. This antioxidant flavonoid has been shown to promote cell and tissue health.Cherries are also high in anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, substances related to reducing the joint and muscle discomfort. Cherries also contain melatonin, an important natural chemical related to healthy sleep rhythms and maintaining a youthful appearance.