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Suzie Sawyer celebrates berries

Picture of hands cupping a group of fresh red strawberries

The Great British institution of Wimbledon always gets us in celebratory mood (not to mention World Cup Fever!).  Amongst other things, our thoughts tend to turn to strawberries!  British strawberries are at their absolute best right now in terms of taste.  Plus, they deliver some wonderful health benefits.  

However, if strawberries aren’t your ‘bag’ then I’ve got some other super-healthy suggestions for you!

Did you know? Strawberries aren’t actually a fruit at all!  This is because their seeds are on the outside, not the inside, and they’re part of the rose or rosaceae family!

Strawberries in the raw!

Strawberries’ nutritional benefits are far-reaching!  For example, they’re a very rich source of vitamin C.  In fact, they feature at about number five in the list of foods high in vitamin C.  Additionally, they contain folate, a member of the B-vitamin family that delivers high energy, plus manganese, which is great for the joints.  This benefit is further enhanced by the presence of ellagitannins, which help manage inflammation in the body; one of the causes of pain. So if you’ve been pushing your body hard on exercise, strawberries can really help the recovery process.

Plus, whilst the anthocyanins in strawberries provide their amazing colour, these plant compounds also deliver some powerful immune-boosting antioxidants.  Moreover, strawberries are high in fibre to keep the bowels running smoothly but fibre also helps to maintain a healthy heart.  

Health benefits

As well as their enviable nutritional profile, strawberries are beneficial in a number of health conditions.  With Type 2 diabetes becoming ever more prevalent, one of the best ways to try to avoid its onset, is by eating foods that are low on the glycaemic index.  This means that whilst they contain sugar, mainly in the form of fructose, this type of sugar is slower to be released into the body because it has to be absorbed via the liver.  Therefore, this helps to balance blood sugar and also keep energy sustained throughout the day.  Indeed, strawberries have a much lower glycaemic index than other fruits such as bananas, pineapples, apricots and cantaloupe melon.

Additionally, since strawberries are rich in antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation in the body, this too can have positive benefits on brain health.  Even though very limited research has been carried out, it’s still fairly evident that eating strawberries can help re-generate the nerves involved in the area of the brain that processes new information. So, summertime, when strawberries are at their best, might be a great time to learn something new; maybe a foreign language so you’ll be well prepared when next year’s holiday comes around!

So, what if strawberries aren’t top of your choice list?!  No problem, there’s plenty of other berries to choose from!

Blueberries

Ranked second only to strawberries in terms of their popularity, blueberries are often termed a super food.  As with strawberries (and other berry fruits), it’s all about the colour!  The pigment colour is attributed to anthocyanins, which are very powerful compounds that provide antioxidants.  However, part of the reason that blueberries are often termed super foods, is because they have a wider array of other health-boosting plant compounds (too many to list) than almost any other fruit. 

Blueberries have been found to be great for maintaining sharp brain function, keeping blood sugar levels in balance and maintaining the eyes in sharp focus.

Cherries

Cherries may be slightly more difficult to eat because of the stone, but they more than make up for any inconvenience with their nutritional benefits! Cherries come in the form of sweet or tart and they actually provide different health benefits.  

Whilst they’re a rich source of vitamin C just like other berry fruits, cherries have been found to help combat the nasty condition, gout, which causes very painful and inflamed joints.  Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood and cherries actually help to reduce this, which, in turn helps symptoms.

On the other hand, tart cherries are one of the only natural sources of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone.  Clearly tart cherries are fairly sharp to eat whole, therefore are best used in tart cherry juice which can be sipped morning and evening for best effect.  And no, sipping it on the morning won’t make you sleepy during the day!

Blackberries

If strawberries are to Wimbledon, blackberries just shout ‘summer’!  Wild blackberries are abundant on the hedgerows and are an amazing accompaniment to many a dessert.

They provide a wealth of health benefits. Whilst they contain an amazing array of powerful plant compounds, blackberries also provide an impressive amount of vitamins; vitamins A, E, K and the B vitamins.  Plus blackberries are high in two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been found to be highly beneficial to eyesight.

These summer berries really pack a health punch – grab a punnet today!

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