Nutritious Berries: Superfoods for Health & Fitness


Nutritional value of eating berries for health and fitness including information on berry medicinal uses.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of Berry

The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single flower and containing one ovary. Grapes and bananas are two common examples. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels. The seeds are usually embedded in the fleshy interior of the ovary, but there are some non-fleshy exceptions, such as peppers, that have air rather than pulp around their seeds.

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The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors. Grapes are also a kind of berry.

The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary.

Many berries, such as the tomato, are edible, but others in the same family, such as the fruits of the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and the fruits of the potato (Solanum tuberosum) are poisonous to humans.

Some berries such as Capsicum have space rather than pulp around their seeds.

Berry colors are due to natural plant pigments, many of which are polyphenols such as the flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins localized mainly in berry skins and seeds.

Berry pigments are usually antioxidants in vitro and thus have oxygen radical absorbency capacity ("ORAC") that is high among plant foods.

One cup of blueberries offers a smaller amount of vitamin C, minerals and phytochemicals for only 83 calories. The same amount of cranberries is similar, but with only 44 calories, 1 cup of raspberries offers vitamin C and potassium for 64 calories.

Together with good nutrient content, ORAC derived in the laboratory distinguishes several berries within a new category of functional foods called "superfruits". However, there is no physiological evidence established to date that berry polyphenols have actual antioxidant value within the human body and it remains invalid to claim that polyphenols have antioxidant health value on product labels in the United States and Europe.

Most berries are naturally sweet and require little effort to prepare. Just rinse them under water and serve for a nutritious snack or dessert.

Buffaloberry May Be Next Super Fruit

New research has uncovered an underutilized berry that could be the new super fruit, the buffaloberry.

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that buffaloberries contain large amounts of lycopene and a related acidic compound, methyl-lycopenoate, which are important antioxidants and nutrients beneficial for human health.

The bright red fruit has a tart flavor, and has historically been used as a source of nutrients for many Native Americans.

The tree on which the fruit grows is a member of the olive family native to Western North America and is found on many Indian reservations, often where little else grows well.

The findings of the study suggest that buffaloberry might be successfully grown as a new commercial crop on American Indian reservations; one which would be a good source of nutrition as well as providing a viable new product in an area in need of economic development.

Quick Facts: Interesting Berry

  • Berries are typically of a contrasting color to their background (often of green leaves), making them visible and attractive to frugivorous animals and birds.
  • While wild blueberries often get top spot for their antioxidant content, all berries are antioxidant superstars, and eating a wide variety is probably ideal.
  • Blackberries and Strawberries contain the highest levels of phytoestrogens, which have a possible roll in prevention of breast & cervical cancer.
  • Berries which develop from an inferior ovary are sometimes termed epigynous berries or false berries, as opposed to true berries which develop from a superior ovary.
  • A recent study in the journal Circulation suggests that sprinkling just a few more blueberries in your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie may help reduce heart attack risk.
  • Eight strawberries contain more Vitamin C than a medium sized orange.
  • Berries are loaded with antioxidant-rich plant compounds called flavonoids that provide potent health protection.
  • Supercharge your diet and maximize berry health benefits by enjoying the entire berry patch.
  • Most of the strawberries grown in the US are from California (88%). About 70% are sold fresh to consumers, up from several years ago.
  • Blue, purple, and red colored berries have been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging.
  • Blackberries are effective in the treatment of stomach problems, such as nausea.

Latest Berries Publications

The blueberry fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants that could help prevent devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease dementia.

Study supports protective role of bioactive compounds in strawberries in tackling recognized markers and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Eating high levels of flavonoids including anthocyanins and other compounds found in berries, tea, and chocolate could offer protection from type 2 diabetes.

Study finds feeding blueberry powder to mice significantly reduced growth and spread of triple negative breast cancer cells a very aggressive form of cancer.

Freeze-dried strawberries may be an alternative to drugs for the prevention of esophageal cancer.

New research shows men and women who regularly eat berries may have a lower risk of developing Parkinsons disease.

Eating blueberries can guard against high blood pressure according to new research by the University of East Anglia and Harvard University.

Black raspberries are highly effective in preventing colorectal tumors in two mouse models of the disease.

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