Berries of all kinds make a perfect summer snack—they are in season,
keep well for outings, can be eaten frozen, fresh, or baked, and are loaded
with beneficial nutrients. We asked
Marcy Kirshenbaum, MS, CCN, CNS, LDN, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, to break down which
berries are the most nutritious.
HWCG: Why are berries so good for us?
MK: Berries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants which support our
immune system, brain functions, heart health, and much more. It’s
believed that berries improve functional mobility by reducing oxidative
stress (think about the browning of an apple slice). The antioxidants
in the berries help lower the oxidative stress. Of course, berries alone
can’t stop functional decline; berries are just a small piece of
a lifestyle that supports wellness.
Besides antioxidants, berries are also a great source of fiber, much which
comes from the many tiny seeds we’re eating.
HWCG: Is there a best berry?
MK: No one berry is “best.” Each berry provides a unique nutrient mix.
When choosing fruits and vegetables in general, include a rainbow of colors.
In terms of berries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries have some
of the highest antioxidants. As good as cranberries may be, they are inherently
very sour so sugar is typically added which counteracts some of the health
benefits such as immune system support. Strawberries, raspberries, acai,
and so on can also be thrown into the mix because they also provide a
high level of antioxidants.
HWCG: Is there a right amount of berries in the daily diet?
MK: Mixing up the types of whole foods we eat is important, including fruits
to obtain a balance of nutrients. In general, I suggest one to two servings
of fruit daily, which is equivalent to one to two cups. Too much fruit
can contribute to insulin spikes, bloating and gas. Be aware that the
benefits of whole fruit cannot be translated to one cup of 100% fruit
juice because you lose the benefits of the skin and fiber while greatly
increasing the sugar content, not to mention that some nutrients are lost
in the pasteurization process.
HWCG: Does the nutritional value of berries change when eaten raw versus
cooked in a pie?
MK: The best way to eat fruit is raw because some of the nutrients are
destroyed by heat.