Healthy foods – super berries1 November 2010
Abdul Quddus, R&D and quality assurance manager for Trofina Food, examines the health benefits of berries.
Berries are regarded as 'super-foods': they are low in calories, excellent sources of fibre, high in antioxidants and vitamins, and are fat-free. They are also nutritious and contain amino acids, essential fatty acids and trace minerals. All berries in whole, pure and unprocessed forms are said to increase energy, enhance immunity and improve digestion.
The super-food status is due to berries' rich polyphenol, flavonoid and antioxidant content, natural compounds that are linked with anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and heart health benefits.
Polyphenols and flavonoids
Polyphenols are said to protect the brain and enhance health through their anti-inflammatory properties, fighting harmful free radicals and dampening inflammation. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and olive oil is recommended to help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Powerful flavonoids such as anthocyanin, which is found in acai berries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries, these gives fruits their dark purple, blue and red pigments. Anthocyanin is said to protect the body against cancer, neurological disorders, inflammation and diabetes. It also clears out free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of degenerative diseases.
Acai, elderberries and blackberries
Acai berries or wolfberries have been used for centuries by rainforest natives to increase energy, improve digestion and promote longevity. Acai berries are said to be one of the most nutritious and powerful foods.
Elderberries and blackberries are often used in teas or tinctures to treat flu, aches, coughs and fever. These berries are high in potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. Elderberries are also anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and have a laxative effect.
Bilberries are related to the blueberry and have been used for centuries as medicine and food. They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and are used mainly to treat vision-related conditions such as retina damage and cataracts. It controls diarrhoea by reducing intestinal inflammation and balances blood sugar.
As a folk remedy, bilberries were used on wounds to prevent infections. They are also rich in tannins, a substance that acts as an astringent, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Note that bilberries are not suitable for children below two years.