1st November 2017 by Jess
Did you know bananas and avocados are technically berries? But strawberries and raspberries aren't? Our nutritionist Jess delves into the world of berries and explains why they're so beneficial to our diet.
Our taste experts love berries, because there are just so many different types! This means there are hundreds of different tastes, colours and textures to experiment with.
Berries also have amazing health benefits! Just like anything in life, variety is key, and each berry has its own nutrition profile, each boasting its own spectrum of vitamin and mineral levels.
The more wild the berry, the better. Why? Because in nature, if a plant is challenged by wind or attack, it has to mount a higher level of protection to ensure it survives the season unbroken or un-eaten! When picked, you then eat that heightened immune system in the way of more vitamins and minerals.
They are great as a breakfast topper to add a delicious touch of sweetness, as well as increasing your fibre intake.
Botanists define fruits as the section of a flowering plant that grows from the ovary. It protects and contains the seed of the plant and helps disperse it. Fruits include citrus, berries, stonefruit, and pomes, and which category a fruit falls into depends on which part of the flower it comes from - the skin, the flesh or the seeds.
A true berry stems from one flower with one ovary and usually has several seeds. This includes tomatoes, pomegranates, kiwis and bananas, but not strawberries or raspberries!
True berries meet the botanical definition of the word "berry". They include some unusual fruits like pomegranates and kiwis.
Here are our nutritionist's favourite true berries...
Origin: Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, US, Chile, China, Argentina, South Africa
Popular in: fresh, dried (raisins, sultanas), juice, wine
What are the health benefits of grapes?
Few fruits have garnered as much attention in the health research literature as grapes.
They contain vitamin K, B2 and copper but it’s their phytonutrient richness (resveratrol, quercetin and lutein to name a few) that is the reason that they are so talked about in the health world.
Origin: Europe and North America
Popular in: tea, syrup, yoghurt, fruit pies
Vitamin C – You want this vitamin by your side if you feel a cold coming on or the flu is doing the rounds in your office or home, as it's needed for a healthy immune system. Have a top up of elderberries if you feel illness coming on.
Vitamin A – Needed to manufacture iron in the body, as well as ensure our skin and eyesight is working as it should.
B6 – This vitamin is needed for the healthy hormone activity, energy and nervous system. We also need it for a healthy brain.
Origin: Europe, North West Africa and South East Africa
Popular in: desserts (pies, fools, crumble), drinks (soda, milk, wine, tea), preserves (jam, dried, pickled, syrup)
What are the health benefits of gooseberries?
1 ounce (28g) of this berry gives you 13% of your daily vitamin C recommended intake. Sprinkle some onto your morning granola or enjoy it as a snack with some pecan or cashew nuts!
Origin: North America
Popular in: jam, soft drinks, sweets
What are the health benefits of barberries?
The barberry, or berberis, is rich in vitamin C and used in herbal medicine to treat polycystic ovary syndrome.
Origin: China, India, Russia, Iran, US, Mexico
Popular in: boiled, steamed, roasted - soup, curries, pie, purée
What are the health benefits of pumpkins?
It’s finally pumpkin season, and the reasons to celebrate are many.
115g (1 cup) of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light.
They are also a great source of fibre and carotenoids.
Origin: Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific
Popular in: fresh, raw (smoothies, fruit salads), cooked (bread, fritters, healthier baked goods)
What are the health benefits of banana?
Bananas are known for their high potassium content, with over 400 mg potassium in a single medium-size banana.
Potassium is necessary for good nerve and muscle function as well as for maintaining a healthy balance of fluids in the body. The potassium in bananas can help prevent muscle cramps after exercise.
Bananas are also rich in fibre, copper, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
Origin: India, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Spain, Chile, Peru, South Africa
Popular in: juice, grenadine, molasses, vinegar
What are the health benefits of pomegranates?
These sweet and tart ruby seeds can pack a serious punch on the health front. Just 87g (1/2 cup) pomegranate seeds supplies just under 18% of your DV for vitamin K, and 15% of your vitamin C recommended daily intake.
Origin: Mexico, Dominican Republic, California and Florida, Brazil, Israel, South Africa
Popular in: guacemole, sandwiches, salads
What are the health benefits of avocado?
A good source of biotin and monounsaturated fats, avocados help to prevent dry skin and brittle hair and nails; when applied topically, they help to hydrate dry skin. For me, they are a super special beauty food.
You might thing avocadoes are stonefruits, but they're actually berries - the "stone" in the middle is one giant seed!
Origin: Germany, Austria, Denmark, The Netherlands.
Popular in: jam, syrups, ribena, jelly, compote, desserts
What are the health benefits of redcurrants and blackcurrants?
Red currant berries are known as “superfruits” as they have naturally high antioxidant capacity due to the pigmented polyphenol, cyanidin, which is found in their skin.
They are also a good supply of vitamins C and K, potassium and manganese. Manganese is a mineral needed for electrolyte harmony, nervous system functioning, muscle health and reducing tiredness, this mineral is a must have.
Origin: China, Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, France
Popular in: raw, juice, garnish, fruit salad,
What are the health benefits of kiwis?
Kiwifruit can offer a great deal more than an exotic tropical flair in your fruit salad. Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C which help keep skin firm and slow down the formation of wrinkles, and are also great for healthy cartilage and bones.
Origin: China, Turkey, Iran, Russia, Ukraine
Popular in: pickles, juice, salad
What are the health benefits of cucumbers?
Cucumbers have not received as much press as other vegetables in terms of health benefits, but this widely cultivated food provides us with a unique combination of nutrients including vitamin C, K, beta-carotene, and manganese.
The high water content means it is a very hydrating choice and is a wonderful way to reduce swelling or puffiness around eyes.homemade dill pickle
Origin: China, Turkey, Iran, Brazil, Egypt
Popular in: fresh, salads, juice
What are the health benefits of watermelons?
This sweet delicious fruit contains vitamin C and pantothenic acid, along with other vital vitamins.
Watermelon also contains a diversity of phytonutrients including carotenoids, flavonoids and triterpenoids.
Nightshades or solancaceae come from flowering plants like vines, shrubs and trees. They appear all over the world and include plants like tobacco, potatoes and chilli peppers. Here are some nightshades that are botanically classified as berries...
Origin: China, India, US, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and Spain
Popular in: salads, soup, ketchup, sauce, salsa, juice, paste, sundried
What are the health benefits of tomatoes?
Tomatoes are a treasure of riches when it comes to their antioxidant benefits, including, of course, their often times-rich concentration of lycopene. In terms of conventional antioxidants, tomatoes provide an excellent amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene; a very good amount of the mineral manganese; and a good amount of vitamin E.
Origin: India, Egypt, China, Turkey, Iran
Popular in: curries, stews, baba ghanoush, vegetarian dishes
What are the health benefits of aubergines?
Aubergines belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes. Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1 and B6. In addition it is high in the minerals copper, potassium and manganese.
As well as featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, aubergine also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in aubergine include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.
Origin: South America
Popular in: snacks, pies, jam, fruit salad, garnish
What are the health benefits of golden berries?
Most plant foods contain vitamins and minerals and the goldenberry, also known as inca berries, physalis or cape gooseberry, is no exception with a concentrated dose per ounce due to their being dried.
A diet rich in vitamins and minerals helps to counteract free radical damage in your body that leads to cellular changes. Free radical exposure comes from pollution, smoke and industrial waste. The damage free radicals cause in your body could lead to many health problems, including cancer.
Adding goldenberries to your diet increases your intake of vitamins that include beta-carotene and vitamins A and C.
Popular in: teas, wine, granola bars
What are the health benefits of goji berries?
Goji berries give you 4 grams of protein per 25g, and have 18 different amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein that play basic but important roles in the body. They also contain 3 grams of fibre per serving, which we need for digestion like clockwork!
Goji berries are a potent source of vitamin A, just 25g gives you 140% of your daily recommended intake of it. The same amount also gives you 20% of your daily vitamin C recommended intake.
If you're iron deficient or at risk of iron deficiency, you would do well to incorporate goji berries into your diet. Just one serving (25g) provides 10%.
A stonefruit or drupe is a fleshy fruit with a small stone. They aren't actually berries at all! They include hackberries, persimmons and plums.
Origin: Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa
Popular in: ice cream, baking (tarts, cake, pie, pastry), flavouring, dried
What are the health benefits of cherries?
Raw sweet cherries contain vitamin C and dietary fibre, but are not as nutritionally dense as sour cherries which also contain vitamin A.
Origin: South America
Popular in: dietary supplements, smoothies, tea
What are the health benefits of acai berries?
The açaí berry is high in nutrients important for optimal health. A 50-gram serving of powdered, freeze-dried açaí fruit pulp and skin provides about 265 calories, 26 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of protein and 16 g of fat (mostly oleic acid or monounsaturated fat). The powder is particularly rich in calcium and vitamin A.
Again, these fruits are widely thought of as berries but don't actually meet the botanical definition. Epignyous fruits include bearberries, crowberries, huckleberries, whortleberries, juniper berries, cowberries and foxberries.
Origin: Nordic countries
Popular in: jam, compote, juice, smoothies, syrup, sauce
What are the health benefits of lingonberries?
One of new berries on the block that science is seriously looking into is the lingonberry; it appears to have higher concentrations of plant polyphenols and may confer even greater health benefits. Well known in Scandinavia, the lingonberry’s Latin name is vaccinium vitis-idaea, and is also known as the cowberry.
As a member of the vaccinium species, it is related to the cranberry, bilberry and blueberry. Today, scientists are showing its value in both human and animal studies that are proving to have positive results.
Lingonberry is used for urinary tract problems including irritation, kidney stones and infections.
Origin: North America
Popular in: juice, sauce, compote, jelly, baking
What are the health benefits of cranberries?
Cranberries have been used for years to effectively treat urinary tract infections.
Vitamin C – If you are partial to exercise, vitamin C is so important to trickle into the body as it’s needed for healthy cartilage (and bones), as well as helping the immune system recover after extreme physical exercise.
Manganese – Wanting more energy, increase manganese-rich foods. Cranberries add a touch of manganese to your daily quota.
In smaller amounts: Vitamin E and K
Origin: North America, South Africa, Australia
Popular in: jelly, jam, pies, muffins
What are the health benefits of blueberries?
Blueberries have been shown to be helpful with protecting blood vessels in diabetics.
A bursting source of vitamin K for healthy bones and blood flow.
Blueberries also contain manganese – a mineral needed for energy creation, bone and connective tissue health and protecting our cells from stress, this mineral is a must have.
Vitamin C can be found in this blue berry which is needed for umpteen different body functions from supporting our immune system, skin, gums, bone and brain health through to reducing tiredness and fatigue and protecting our cells from oxidative (day-to-day) stress.
Origin: Nordic countries
Popular in: jams, buns, juice, pies, liqueur, sorbet, crêpes, tart
What are the health benefits of bilberries?
It sounds a lot like blueberry, and rightfully so, as it’s a relative to the benefit-rich blueberry and is most commonly used to make jams and pies. But did you now it’s also been used for centuries in medicine and food?
What makes this berry so phenomenal is that it contains naturally-producing chemicals known as anthocyanosides. Anthocyanosides are plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant properties.
One study showed that bilberry had positive effects on vision in lower light environments. These antioxidants scavenge the body for free radicals, with the intention of helping to prevent or reverse damaged cells.
Popular in: wine, tea, juice, jam, yoghurt, bread, food colouring
What are the benefits of chokeberries?
Fresh chokeberries can be used in many of the same ways other berries are, including in jam, yoghurt, wine and numerous desserts. Dried aronia berries are sold in many health food stores as a healthy snack. You can add them to your DIY granola and other foods if you want to "up" your nutrient quotient. The dried berries can also be infused with boiling water and steeped to make an antioxidant-rich herbal tea.
When you eat these and other foods containing chokeberries, you arm yourself with many powerful vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and E, folate and such minerals as potassium, iron and manganese. Then there are the additional nutrients and a host of phytonutrients packed in these little berries
Compound fruits contain multiple seeds, but again, they're not technically classed as berries! Compound fruits include dewberries, salmonberries, bayberries, cloudberries, loganberries, juneberries and many more.
Origin: Russia, Poland, North America
Popular in: eaten fresh, baking, juice
What are the health benefits of raspberries?
Raspberries have eye-protective antioxidants called lutein.
Vitamin C – When you’re in need of a pick-me-up, you need this vitamin in your life. It is required by your cells to create energy and release the energy from our food and it’s also needed in healthy amounts to reduce tiredness and fatigue, so look for raspberries when you’re feeling like your energy needs a boost.
Manganese – For cellular protection again, without this mineral your cells wouldn’t have the defence system to keep themselves in healthy working order.
Origin: Morocco, Spain, California
Popular in: preserves, cereal bars, flavoured dairy (milk, ice cream, yoghurt), baking, eaten fresh
What are the health benefits of strawberries?
A superhero in the vitamin C department, strawberries are full to the brim with vitamin C. Just 1 large strawberry (18g ish) provides you with nearly one fifth of your recommended vitamin C quota for the day.
This "berry" also houses a healthy dose of manganese, another vital mineral.
Popular in: desserts, jams, jelly, wine, pie, crumble
What are the health benefits of blackberries?
Vitamin C – Think brain health, think vitamin C.
Vitamin K – With the inclusion of vitamin K comes healthier bones and blood.
Manganese – Bones and connective tissues rely on this mighty mineral and it can be found in this black berry.
Found in smaller amounts are: folate, copper and magnesium.
Origin: North America
Popular in: jam, pie, juice, syrup, ice cream
What are the health benefits of boysenberries?
Folate – We need this B vitamin in our life to help create amino acids (the building block of protein) in our body. We also need it for the health replication of our cells, as well as during pregnancy, for a healthy baby.
Manganese – This wonder mineral is required to extract the energy out of our food.
Popular in: pies, tarts, wine, cordial, tea
What are the health benefits of mulberries?
Vitamin K – For healthy blood flow and bones, we need this mineral in our bodies, and mulberries are a great (and tasty) plant source.
Iron – A mineral for all humans, no matter the age. It is needed for the cognitive development in children and adults and we need it if we want out immune systems to be working at full throttle. For energy, we need it and to create red blood cells, which houses our haemoglobin, which is essential for transferring oxygen in your blood from the lungs to the tissues.
Vitamin C – For healthy gums and teeth, our mouths need this water-soluble vitamins, and what tastier way to get vitamin C than from mulberries!
In much smaller amounts:
Vitamin B2, magnesium and potassium.
Origin: Nordic countries
Popular in: jams, juice, tarts, liqueurs
What are the health benefits of cloudberries?
Humungous amounts of vitamin C can be found in this berry, just one ounce (28g) gives you three quarters of your recommended daily intake of this vitamin.
Although they’re tricky to find in the world, vitamin C is certainly not difficult to find in this berry.
How many berries have you tried? Have we missed any? Tweet us @grazedotcom to let us know!
By Jess, graze nutritionist.
Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to her website at jessntom.com for even more.
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