The high level of natural Antioxidants in Berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries (and others) is a "berry" good reason to include berries in your diet!
Berries are ranked as the #1 highest food known to include powerful antioxidant activity.
What can berries "do" for you? What are antioxidants anyway? What are "free radicals"?
Whether berries are eaten fresh, frozen, freeze-dried or powdered, berries are nutritional powerhouses that are high in antioxidant activity which is believed to help prevent and repair oxidative stress, a process that damages body cells and has been linked to the development of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease, among others.
This process of "oxidative stress" is also referred to as "free radical activity".
"Free radicals" are by-products of a vital metabolic process known as "oxidation".
Vital, because the process itself is a normal, necessary part of our bodies defence mechanisms.
It is when there is an over production of free radicals, that the antioxidants are essential to counter-act the effect of the oxidative stress.
Our bodies produce antioxidants naturally, and are quite effective in neutralizing free radicals.
Copper, manganese, selenium and zinc are important minerals in this process.
This natural process however, is not 100% effective, and its effectiveness declines with age.
Different berries have individual benefits of what they can "do" for you.
In addition to being high in antioxidant activity, research shows that there are other factors unique to each different type of berry.
There are flavonoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid levels, anti-inflammatory properties to consider as well.
Foods are measured for their ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), a fancy way of saying their antioxidant power, to determine which fruits, vegetables, and other foods are highest in this area of nutritional health benefits.
What does all this "talk" about antioxidants in berries mean for you?
Put simply, beyond doubt, including these delectable tender fruits in your diet on a very regular basis is a good idea to help your body take advantage of the numerous vitamins, minerals and antioxidants provided by consuming these scrumptious fruits.
I like to include raspberries, blueberries, or any other type of berry in my diet and menu planning as much as possible.
Sprinkling a few fresh, or dried berries on my cereal every morning is a routine I have continued to do for a long time.
Similarly, it is simple to add berries to yogurt for a delectable berry snack or dessert with berries.
Not only are these healthy ideas, but adding berries to your cereal or yogurt will greatly enhance the flavour too!
To help encourage kids to take advantage of the high level of antioxidants in berries, make a triple berry smoothie for breakfast, or as a healthy snack at any time of the day!
Does this necessarily mean that eating a lot of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries will stave off cancer or other chronic diseases, because of the antioxidants in berries?
No, of course not. Obviously a variety of other factors come into play, including: how many berries are being included in the diet, over what period of time, and in the context of one's overall dietary pattern, and their own personal risk factors for disease.
What are examples of other foods, besides berries, which are high in antioxidant activity?
Other fruit, besides berries, that are high in antioxidants are prunes, raisins, plums, oranges, red grapes and cherries, apples (with peel!), kiwi, and peaches.
Vegetables that are known to contain high levels of antioxidant power are kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, pinto beans, black beans, broccoli flowers, beets, red bell peppers, onions, corn, and eggplant.
Beverages, such as green tea, coffee, many fruit juices, and red wine contain antioxidant properties.
Nuts, such as hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds, among others, also include antioxidants.
Herbs, such as ground cloves cinnamon and ginger, and dried oregano leaf are also examples of foods containing antioxidants.
And, YES! That piece of dark chocolate ranks high on the list of foods with a high antioxidant value! YEAH!:)
So, next time you plan your menu, try to include foods which are high in antioxidant activity.
Remember when it comes to ranking, Berries rank at the top for the food with the highest level of antioxidant activity!
If fresh berries are not available in the area in which you live, purchase frozen berries, dried berries or canned berries, and make use of their powerhouse of nutritional benefits and health benefits.
Or, take advantage of the antioxidants in berries and pick your own berries when they are in season in the area where you live, and preserve them by canning, freezing (very easy!), or drying the berries.