The 8 Healthiest Berries You Can Eat
Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.
They are sweet or sour in taste and often used in preserves, jams, and desserts.
Berries tend to have a good nutritional profile. They’re typically high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant polyphenols.
As a result, incorporating berries into your diet may help prevent and reduce symptoms of many chronic diseases.
Here are 8 of the healthiest berries you can eat.
Blueberries are popular berries that serve as a great source of vitamin K.
One cup (148 grams) of blueberries provides the following nutrients (1):
Blueberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins from blueberries may reduce oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of heart disease in both healthy people and those at high risk for the disease.
In addition, blueberries may improve other aspects of heart health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of heart attack, and enhancing the function of arteries.
Blueberries may lower the risk of diabetes as well. Studies have shown that blueberries or bioactive blueberry compounds can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%.
A large observational study has shown that people who eat blueberries also have slower rates of cognitive decline, meaning their brain remains healthier as they age.
However, more research is needed to determine the exact role that blueberries play in brain health.
Blueberries contain good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant anthocyanins. Eating blueberries may help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Raspberries are often used in desserts and serve as a very good source of fiber.
One cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides (13):
Raspberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can help reduce oxidative stress.
One study showed that when cyclists consumed a drink containing raspberries and other berries, oxidative stress caused by exercise decreased significantly.
The most commonly consumed raspberries are the American red or European red varieties. However, there are many different types of raspberries, and black raspberries have been shown to have a number of health benefits, too.
Black raspberries may be especially good for heart health. Studies have proven that black raspberries can reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
Other studies have shown that black raspberries may reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome.
However, these studies were very small. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of black raspberries.
Raspberries are full of fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Black raspberries, in particular, may benefit heart health.
3. Goji berries
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to China and used in traditional medicine. They have recently become very popular in the Western world.
One ounce (28 grams) of dried goji berries provides:
Goji berries also contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health.
One study of 150 elderly people found that eating 14 grams of a proprietary milk-based formulation of goji berry per day reduced the decline in eye health due to aging. This study, along with a second similar study, showed that eating goji berries could raise blood zeaxanthin levels.
Like many other berries, goji berries contain antioxidant polyphenols. One study found that drinking goji berry juice for 30 days increased blood antioxidant levels of healthy, older Chinese people.
Another study found that drinking goji berry juice for 2 weeks increased metabolism and reduced waist size in overweight people.
Goji berries are particularly rich in nutrients that contribute to eye health. They also contain important antioxidants.
Strawberries are one of the most commonly consumed berries in the world and also one of the best sources of vitamin C.
One cup (144 grams) of whole strawberries provides (25):
Strawberries are good for heart health. In fact, a study of over 93,000 women found that those who ate more than 3 portions of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of heart attack.
Other studies have shown that strawberries may reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress.
Strawberries can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Moreover, strawberries may help control blood sugar levels, which is important for preventing diabetes.
In fact, a study of over 200,000 people found that eating strawberries could reduce type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 18%.
Finally, another study showed that eating 2 ounces (60 grams) per day of freeze-dried strawberry powder reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory chemicals in people at high risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They are proven to reduce risk factors for heart disease and help control blood sugar.
Bilberries are very similar to blueberries, and the two are often confused. Bilberries are native to Europe, whereas blueberries are native to North America.
3.5 ounces (100 grams) of bilberries provide (36):
Many scientific studies have shown that bilberries are effective at reducing inflammation.
A couple of studies have shown that eating bilberries or drinking bilberry juice can reduce inflammation in people at risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome.
Another study of 110 women found that eating bilberries for around 1 month reduced the levels of endothelial markers that are implicated in the development of heart disease. Bilberries also reduced waist circumference by 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) and weight by 0.4 pounds (0.2 kgs).
A separate study found that eating a diet rich in bilberries, whole grains, and fish reduced blood sugar in people with high blood sugar.
Bilberries may also increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Bilberries are similar to blueberries and are effective at reducing inflammation. They may also help reduce weight and blood cholesterol.
6. Acai berries
Acai berries grow on acai palm trees native to the Brazilian Amazon region.
They have become popular health food supplements because of their high antioxidant content.
3.5 ounces (100 grams) of acai berry puree provides (43):
Keep in mind that acai berries are often consumed dried or freeze-dried, which can affect the nutritional content.
Acai berries are one of the best sources of antioxidant polyphenols and may contain as much as 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries.
When consumed as a juice or pulp, acai berries can increase blood antioxidant levels and reduce chemicals involved in oxidative stress.
Additionally, acai berry pulp has been shown to reduce blood sugar, insulin, and blood cholesterol levels in overweight adults who consumed 200 grams per day for 1 month.
These effects have also been shown in athletes. Drinking 3 ounces (100 ml) of an acai juice blend for 6 weeks reduced blood cholesterol and reduced oxidative stress after exercise, which may speed up recovery from muscle damage.
The antioxidants in acai may also help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study of people with osteoarthritis found that drinking 4 ounces (120 ml) of acai juice per day for 12 weeks significantly reduced pain and improved daily living.
Acai berries contain high amounts of antioxidants, which may help reduce blood cholesterol, oxidative stress, and even reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Cranberries are an extremely healthy fruit with a sour taste.
They are rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are commonly consumed as juice.
1 cup (110 grams) of raw cranberries provides:
Like other berries, cranberries contain antioxidant polyphenols. However, most of these antioxidants are in the skin of the cranberry. Therefore, cranberry juice doesn’t contain as many polyphenols.
The best-known health benefit of cranberries is their ability to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Certain chemicals in cranberries prevent the bacteria E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder or urinary tract, therefore reducing the risk of infection.
A number of studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can reduce the risk of UTIs.
Cranberry juice may reduce the risk of other infections as well.
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers and cancer. A number of studies have shown that cranberry juice can prevent H. pylori from attaching to the stomach wall and thus prevent infection.
Cranberry juice has also shown various benefits for heart health. Many studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and “stiffness” of arteries.
However, it’s best to avoid varieties of cranberry juice with lots of added sugar.
Cranberries and cranberry juice can reduce the risk of urinary tract and stomach infections and may benefit heart health. However, it’s best to avoid juices with lots of added sugar.
Grapes are widely consumed either as whole, raw fruit or as juice, wine, raisins, or vinegar.
One cup (151 grams) of whole, raw grapes provides:
The skin and seeds of grapes are an excellent source of antioxidant polyphenols. A number of studies have shown that grape seed polyphenol extracts can lower both blood pressure and heart rate.
However, many of these studies were small. Other studies assert that the effect of polyphenols on blood pressure remains unclear.
A large observational study found that eating grapes or raisins 3 times per week was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another study found that eating 17 ounces (500 grams) of grapes per day for 8 weeks reduced blood cholesterol and oxidative stress in people with high cholesterol.
Finally, grape juice may even benefit brain health. A small study of 25 women found that drinking 12 ounces (355 ml) of Concord grape juice every day for 12 weeks significantly improved memory and driving performance.
Grapes, particularly the seeds and skin, are full of antioxidants. They may help reduce blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes risk while also benefiting brain health.
The bottom line
Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Many berries have proven benefits for heart health. These include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, while reducing oxidative stress.
They may also help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by acting as great alternatives to sugary snacks.
Try to eat a few portions of berries a week and sample different types. They make a great snack or healthy breakfast topping.
Written by Ruairi Robertson, PhD