Berries: A Nutritious Treat
Berries and related fruits are fun to eat, delicious, and healthy. Most of the benefits are related to antioxidant activity and/or vitamin C (itself an antioxidant). The chemicals that give many berries their color (especially blue and purple) are anthocyanins. Some nutritional scientists belive that these chemicals offer substantial health benefits. Rose hips are known for their high vitamin C content.
Acai is the Brazilian palm berry. Acai contains high anti-oxidant capacity, having ORAC scores of around 167 (micromole Trolox equivalent per gram). The acai berry became very popular in large Brazilian cities in the late 1980's, and has since become popular in the United States.
The aronia berry is a jewel of the American continent. Until recently it has been all but forgotten. As nutritional scientists look for new super-fruits, they have come to realize that the aronia berry is one of the most powerful antioxidant berries in the world. It can be used to produce delicious nutritional products, and is being cultivated in the US and other countries. Aronia berries are one of very few that can compete with acai.
Photo Credit: Littleisland Lighthouse, Bjørn Tennøe
The bilberrry is one of the highest anthocyanin containing berries in the world. The bilberry is a forest fruit native to Europe. In Europe it is often referred to generically as "blueberry", but there are significant differences between the biilberry and the typical North American blueberry. The typical North American blueberry has a high concentration of anthocyanins in the outer skin, but has a greenish flesh. The bilberry on the other hand has a blue skin, but also reddish flesh indicating a higher concentration of anthocyanins throughout the berry. Another difference is that the North American blueberry grows on the bush in clumps, while the bilberry grows as single berries.
Coffee Berry (coffee cherry, coffee fruit)
The currant, especially the black currant, is a high antioxidant berry. The currrant has been enjoyed for generations in Europe. The wonderful flavor cassis is from the black currant, and is one of the most popular berry flavors in Europe.
Photo Credit: Stephen McKay
The elderberry is very high in anthocyanins (dark blue/purple coloring, high antioxidant potential) and polyphenolics in general. It may not be a record breaker in any one category, but it is a very high antioxidant potential super-fruit. The elderberry is also very tasty, which is an important consideration for super-fruits.
blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry, gooseberry, raspberry, rowanberry, etc.
Forest berries are available fresh during summer, and often beyond (coming from Chile and other countries), They are fun to eat, and are of good antioxidant potential. Some forest berries (black raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and bilberry for instance), are considered super-fruits. Others may not quite be super-fruits, but come close, and are still worthwhile to add to our diets.
The Goji berry is a newer super-fruit to the American public. It is a high carotenoid (i.e., beta-carotene and related compounds) berry.
The Maguis berry from Chile is one of te newest entrants to the super-fruit category. It is a very high anthocyanin and total phenolic content berry like acai, aronia, and bilberry.
Rose hips have been around for a long time, but are only now being recognized as a super-fruit. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, lycopene, antioxidant flavonoids, and other nutritional compounds.
Sea Buckhorn is a yellowish berry with very high carotenoid content (beta carotene and related compounds).