When discussing healthy foods, berries are frequently a part of the conversation. From their high fiber contents to their antioxidant-rich nature, berries have become synonymous with a healthy diet.
While berries are typically described as having all of these qualities that make them healthy, it is important to understand why these components of berries are healthy and how they actually support your overall health.
Below is a closer look at how fruits and berries support your health as well as other ways you can support your overall wellbeing. Understanding the underlying science and reasoning behind these health claims will allow you to be a more informed consumer who is able to make more informed decisions about the foods you decide to implement into your diet.
Why antioxidants matter
The term antioxidant is thrown around quite a bit, yet many people don’t understand what they even are or why they matter. The reason antioxidants matter is that they are molecules that help to prevent oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a form of stress caused by molecules within the body that are highly unstable. With antioxidants, these unstable molecules known as free radicals are kept under control, but when free radicals begin to outnumber antioxidants, the free radicals run rampant and steal electrons from nearby structures to become more stable. While more stability is good, the stolen electron from surrounding structures causes stress and damage at a cellular level since the victim of the robbery becomes the unstable one.
Oxidative stress in the short term doesn’t really pose a large threat, but over prolonged periods of time, chronic oxidative stress can cause a slew of different negative health conditions. Getting an appropriate amount of antioxidants through your diet is an important component to helping your body maintain the delicate balance required to avoid oxidative stress.
History of antioxidants and berries
Antioxidants are a hot topic in the world of nutrition and medicine today. If you looked back 50 years ago, the conversation surrounding antioxidants would seem minuscule in comparison to how often it is discussed today. The large shift is mainly due to a deeper level of understanding of how cells and cellular health impacts overall health as well as how certain molecules interact with one another. Namely the concept of oxidative stress and free radicals.
Berries were not always synonymous with antioxidants and actually, one of the first berries to tout itself as a super source of antioxidants was the blueberry.
From the success of the blueberry, many other crops and foods have followed suit into the arena of health and now it is seemingly difficult to find a whole fruit or vegetable that doesn’t have some sort of health narrative behind it. In this way, the blueberry may have been the catalyst for the world of health-centered marketing we have today.
Antioxidants found within berries
Today the marketing for antioxidants seems to be drowned out as nearly every health-centered food item seems to repeat one another. “Antioxidant-superfood,” “Full of Free Radical Fighting Power,” and many other slogans seem to all try and convince consumers that their product is the end all be all when it comes to antioxidants. In reality, these statements are just as descriptive as declaring a substance as just “healthy.”
The truth is that the term antioxidant simply states that a molecule can keep free radicals at bay. Each antioxidant has a different structure, mechanism, absorption, and ability to help the body.
To truly understand how antioxidants help to support your health, it is important to understand what antioxidants do.
Below is a closer look at some of the most common antioxidants found within berries and how they work to support your health.
Anthocyanin is a class of molecule that gives berries their blue, purple, or red coloration. The molecules are typically found within the skin of berries and are one of the main sources of antioxidant properties in berries.
There are many different anthocyanins . The anthocyanins found within plants can include Pelargonidin, Cyanidin, Delphinidin, Peonidin, Malvidin, and Petunidin.
Anthocyanins are a hot molecule within research as numerous studies have conferred the potential for them to be utilized to help aid in chronic oxidative stress encountered throughout the body.
While the jury is still out on how much good anthocyanin could offer, with little to no downsides these antioxidants can give your body the cellular edge they need to fight back against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
Fruits and berries are some of the best sources of natural vitamins available. While vitamins are important for specific physiological functions, a few of them can also act as an antioxidant and have antioxidative properties.
Vitamins A, C, and E all have a degree of antioxidant properties. Many berries contain both Vitamin C and Vitamin E, but most plants in general lack Vitamin A. Rather than providing Vitamin A directly, many plants provide the precursor to Vitamin A known as beta-carotene which is converted within the body into Vitamin A.
Resveratrol is another antioxidant commonly found in berries. Within plants, the chemical is utilized in response to the stress experienced by the plant such as infection or other outside stressors. Outside of plants, the molecule has suggested that it has antifungal, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, and antitumor properties.
While these prospects sound astonishing, berries are far from having any therapeutic dose of resveratrol. A single berry contains a minuscule amount of the molecule. While supplements do exist, the potential side effect and right therapeutic dose of resveratrol are still largely unknown.
Ellagic acid is another antioxidant found within fruit. Specifically ellagic acid is highest in fruits like grapes and pomegranates. Ellagic acid has been shown in some studies to have effective radical scavenging properties, yet these findings have yet to show a benefit within humans.
While antioxidants tend to be the star of the show for berries, they also have many other health benefits. One of those is that fruits contain a good source of fiber. Fiber is an important aspect, of your diet as it is a molecule that directly supports gastrointestinal health.
Fiber in its simplest form is a largely indigestible carbohydrate. While at first glance fiber may not seem helpful since it is not broken down, in reality, it plays a large role in helping to support the gastrointestinal system by helping everything else to move along regularly.
When you eat food it passes throughout the length of your digestive tract which in healthy adults can be as long as 30 feet. Fiber acts by adding volume and retaining water within your stool which allows it to have an easier time going through that long journey. Fiber also can help satiate your hunger, which can help to avoid overeating.
Low glycemic index
When you think of berries you most likely think of their sweet attributes and for many, the fact that they are relatively low on the glycemic index is quite the shocker.
Glycemic index (GI) is a measure that looks at the effects foods have on raising blood sugar. While berries contain natural sugars, the fact that they also contain quite a bit of fiber means that the sugar is absorbed more slowly. The slower absorption of sugar means less of a drastic spike which is good for those looking out for their blood sugar. Berries are a must for those with a sweet tooth that are also looking to effectively manage blood sugar levels.
For those looking for added blood sugar level support, MitoQ Blood Sugar is a great option. With MitoQ, Chromium Picolinate, zinc amino acid chelate, and cinnamon, the supplement is full of ingredients to help support a healthy blood sugar balance. When paired with low GI foods like berries, you give your body the support it needs to more effectively maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
In summary, antioxidant-rich berries pose many different health benefits thanks to their many healthful components. The antioxidants paired with fiber and a low glycemic index enable berries to be both tasty and healthy. While the idea of berries as superfoods is more of a recent development, it doesn’t take away from the many real benefits these foods provide.
The antioxidants found in berries can help to mitigate oxidative damage which can help to support proper cardiac, neurological, and overall proper bodily function. This is all accomplished while also providing your body with vitamins needed to function at their very best make berries a must for anyone looking to support their health through natural means.