Berries are small, sweet, juicy, brightly coloured, fleshy fruits. They are produced from one ovary, with their many seeds embedded in the fruit. They can be one fruit (strawberry) or many joined together (raspberry).
Berry colours are from natural plant pigments called polyphenols such as flavinoids, anthocyanins and tannins, which are concentrated in the skins and seeds. These have high anti-oxidant properties and are thought to help protect again many health problems and effects of aging.
Polyphenols also help to block the enzymes that cancer cells need for growth and can activate a key enzyme that helps restore cellular ATP levels – i.e. energy! Green tea is also a rich source.
Flavinoids have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic properties. They are also beneficial to the cardio-vascular system, having a vasodilatory effect, i.e. dilate the blood vessels, and also prevent blood clotting. Green, white and black tea are also rich sources, as are honey and onions.
Anthrocyanins are a sub class of flavinoids.
Tannins were thought of as anti- health, though it is now considered that the right amount of the right tannins is beneficial for a stronger heart. Good sources are tea and red wine.
Common berries are blackberries (brambles), gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, red and black currants.
Nutritional Values of Raw Berries – Vitamins:
- High in vitamin A and C, with smaller amounts of vitamin B, E, K
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)and B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Folate – particularly high in blackberries, strawberries, raspberries
- B6 (pyridoxal-5 phosphate) – except in blackberries
- Choline – except in gooseberries
- Vitamin K – except in gooseberries, blackcurrants
- Vitamin B1 in gooseberries, black currants
- Vitamin B2 in red and black currants
Nutritional Values of Raw Berries – Minerals:
- High in potassium; lesser amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus
- Traces of copper, iron, manganese, sodium, zinc
- Traces of selenium – except in black currants
- Strawberries contain traces of fluoride
Nutritional Values of Raw Berries – Other:
- Rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
- Small amounts of protein
Eat berries anytime on their own, with porridge or cereal, as a desert or smoothie or as a snack when you are passing the bush! Eat raw for the fullest nutrition; eat cooked, freeze for later or make jams/jellies.
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