The Healthiest Fruit
Plants have been shown to do wonders for protecting health and I have a favorite: berries! They are a powerhouse for boosting immune systems, protecting against cancer, reducing cholesterol, plus supporting brain, liver and heart health. With so much benefit, I recommend adding at least one serving to your daily routine (as does Dr. Greger from NutritionFacts.org!). A serving is 1 cup of fresh or ¼ cup dried (unsweetened) fruit.
Berries’ health factor comes from the color. The pigment indicates antioxidants so the brighter, richer the color, the healthier the fruit. While other fruits (apples, pears, mango, bananas, etc.) do have antioxidants, berries outperform them by about 5x. For example, in an antioxidant ranking system, bananas have 40 units of antioxidant power. Compare that with blackberries at 650 units, blueberries at 380 or raspberries at 350 and there’s no doubt what’s doing more for you.
My patients often share that they don’t eat fruit in an effort to control their blood sugar. But this is the wrong way to look at it. Studies show berries do not cause high blood sugar and can even reduce spikes when eaten with very processed foods (like white crackers, tortillas or bread). The fiber within the fruit has a gelling effect that can slow the sugar release and, when combined with the highly protective phytonutrients found in berries, may even reduce sugar absorption.
While not a berry, cherries deserve a special shoutout for their role in reducing inflammation. Studies have shown cherries can reduce c-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation), exercise-induced soreness, blood pressure, arthritis, A1C, and lipids (LDL, triglycerides, VLDL) and can even reverse gout. I always recommend adding tart cherries to daily intake for very active people, but I think they benefit everyone with these results.
5 Easy Ways to Eat More Berries
1. Oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries (hot or cold)
2. Fresh as a snack
3. Blended into a smoothie
4. Dried (unsweetened) mixed with nuts and seeds
5. Tart dried cherries in green or quinoa salad
Greger, M. (2015). How Not to Die. Flatiron Books: New York.
Kelley, D. S., Adkins, Y., & Laugero, K. D. (2018). A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients, 10(3), 368. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10030368