Berries are among the world’s healthiest foods. Low in calories but rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and fiber, each type of berry has its own unique benefits. Whether eaten raw, cooked or taken as a supplement in liquid, capsule or powder form, you'll be getting some serious health perks.
Here are the berries that get top marks:
A native of South and Central America, especially in the dense rainforests of Brazil, the acai berry (Euterpe oleracea) is a small, deep purple fruit found to be one of the richest sources of antioxidants -- almost 20 times higher than blueberries and blackberries, per data from the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Acai contains anthocyanins, 12 flavonoid-like compounds and resveratrol, protecting the body against diseases and acting as anti-aging elements. It also contains high levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that helps in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Acai helps burn fat, increase energy levels, suppress appetite and increase productivity. It can also help lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol, improve mood and supports blood circulation and cognitive health.
Also known as wolfberry, goji berries grow in the temperate climates of China, Mongolia and the Himalayan Mountains. With a mild, tangy taste, goji berries are rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which promote healthy skin and clear vision. Goji berry has a high content of oleic acid, the monounsaturated fatty acid that aids in the absorption of omega-3 fish oil into the cell membrane and promotes longevity.
Found in Southeast Asia, the key component of the purple mangosteen fruit (Garcinia mangostana) are xanthones -- a group of compounds thought to have anti-cancer properties, in addition to their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic effects. Mangosteen extracts can be used to treat acne, allergies, arthritis and infection.
The camu camu tree (Myrciaria dubia) grows in the rainforests of Peru and Brazil. Camu camu has 30 to 60 times more vitamin C than an orange. Camu camu also contains amino acids, anthocyanins and flavonoids and is rich in beta-carotene, calcium, iron and phosphorus as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Renowned nutritionist Gary Null, Ph.D, found camu camu can help treat all forms of the herpes virus and is an effective antidepressant and/or aid for weaning patients off antidepressants. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of camu camu also support the immune system, eyes, lungs and brain.
Grown mainly in Maine and Michigan, blueberries (Vaccinium cyanococcus) are a powerful source of dietary fiber and phytochemicals, including vitamins B6, C and K, minerals like manganese, potassium and phosphorus and antioxidants like resveratrol. Blueberries promote cognitive health and can slow brain degeneration, reduce brain damage in stroke patients, maintain normal blood pressure and blood sugar, lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer and inflammatory conditions.
Native to Scandinavia, lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are a tiny, red fruit with a sour taste. Endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Oz on his show "Dr. Oz," lingonberries are rich in beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C and the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Long used by Native Americans, these berries can help with the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and coronary artery disease. They strengthen the lining of the blood vessels and increase red blood cell production and their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are also effective in reducing your risk for kidney and eye diseases and infections.
Grown predominantly in Michigan, tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) are lower in sugar and calories than their sweeter counterpart. Their anthocyanins and melatonins make them effective in treating inflammatory conditions, promoting muscle strength and recovery, regulating hormones and blood sugar and promoting restful sleep.
Also called amla, Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis) is loaded with vitamins C and B complex as well as the minerals calcium, iron and phosphorus. With its antioxidant properties, Indian gooseberry promotes the growth of strong, shiny hair as well as eye and heart health (lowers LDL cholesterol and promotes circulation) as well as protects against infection and relieves digestive issues.
So there you have it! The top superberries to stock up on. Enjoy!
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