Beautiful berries: Why they make your heart and health sing
Berries are synonymous with summer – and they pack a mighty punch when it comes to keeping you sweet on the inside.
It’s the season of delicious, sun-soaked berries.
Fibres from berries, both soluble and insoluble, help keep a healthy ecosystem for the good bacteria in our gut, says University of Newcastle clinical nutritionist Dr Vincent Candrawinata.
Here’s why berries are so good – and which ones you should most definitely be putting in your smoothies this summer.
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Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that give blueberries their colour, Dr Vincent says.
“Anthocyanins are really great for our body because they fight free radicals, the unstable molecules that attack our cells. So a diet rich in antioxidants such as blueberries is really great to protect our body from free radicals,” he says.
One recent study found eating 150g of blueberries a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15 per cent.
Some studies also show blueberries have anti-inflammatory effects that may even help reduce risk of disease, Dr Vincent says.
Blackberries come packed with fibre, helping to reduce our blood sugar levels and they also contain antioxidants and some of the B vitamins, according to Dr Vincent.
“The antioxidant make up is very similar to blueberries, which is anthocyanin, but they are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K,” he says.
“Altogether, all these nutrients in blackberries have been shown to have a very beneficial effect to support brain function.”
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“Folate in strawberries is really great, because unlike the folate you get from a capsule or tablet, it’s highly absorbable by the body.
The combination of minerals strawberries provide also helps to reduce high blood pressure and better still, strawberries are cheap and accessible, he says.
“If I have to choose just one type of berry, it would be strawberry, because it has everything you want in terms of fibre, vitamin C, some minerals as well as antioxidants,” Dr Vincent says.
Raspberries also contain high levels of fibre and manganese as well as vitamin K, magnesium and potassium, Dr Vincent says.
They also contain a higher proportion of vitamin C, which helps immune function and iron absorption, Dr Vincent says.
The Inca berry originates from South America and is normally sold in dry form.
It’s a good snacking option, given it is low in calories, packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and has a higher protein content than other berries, Dr Vincent says.
“Sometimes when it comes to dried fruit, one of the major health concerns is the sugar content,” he says.
“However, compared to other dried fruits, the dried Inca berry actually has a higher fibre to sugar ratio. So even though it does contain sugar that’s higher than fresh form, it’s considered quite a low-GI food, so it doesn’t give you all the sugar content in one load.”
Berry recipes to try:
- Vegan Quinoa Porridge with Kale, Strawberries, Blueberries and Pear
- Ring Biscuits with White Chocolate, Cranberries and Pistachio Nuts
- Banana Pancakes with Raspberries and Chia Seeds
- Vegan Strawberry Smoothie Bowl with Dried Goji Berries and Grated Chocolate
- Pina Colada Smoothie Bowls
- Vegan Blueberry Muffins
- Inner Glow Breakfast Smoothie
Written by Melissa Iaria.