Berries: 5 Health Benefits You Didn't Know About
Berries in general are among some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They’re a convenient snack, a tasty treat when you’re looking for something sweet, and an easy addition to any healthy diet to boost vitamin and mineral content. But, with so many different kinds available to us it can be hard to determine which are truly among the healthiest berries.
Goji, acai, and blueberries may come to mind, but what actually makes berries healthy? We’ve already given you a hint! It has to do with their nutrients - the vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds given to us by nature in these tiny, colorful packages that bring about many different health effects. If you aren’t familiar with the health benefits of berries, here are just a few!
Berry Benefits for Blood Sugar
It isn’t very often that a sweet food actually has benefits for blood sugar levels, but berries must be nature’s gift to those of us with a sweet tooth! Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries (to name a few) are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre which all play an important role in the body’s control of blood sugar levels. Research has even suggested that eating these berries regularly can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance from the blood! What does that mean exactly? Well, by improving sensitivity and clearance, the consumption of berries actually has a multi-factorial benefit on blood sugar which acts as a double-positive for our health. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Berry Benefits for Heart Health
In many forms of alternative medicine many types of berries have been used for thousands of years due to their health benefits like goji berries, acai berries, and bilberries. There’s a reason why they’ve been popular for so long - these berries have health benefits for the entire body, as well as the heart! Nutrients like anthocyanins are the pigments that give berries their bright red, blue, and purple hue and are one of the main contributing factors as to why they’re so heart healthy, apart from their fibre, antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content. Anthocyanin intake through these different types of berries has been associated with reduced oxidative stress, blood pressure, and inflammation, improved lipid profiles, as well as stronger blood vessels. So, when it comes to heart health, berries should definitely come to mind as a key player to help mediate the risk factors that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.
You may recognize the bilberry as a common ingredient in a few of our products, like our Calcium, D3 + K2 with Bilberry. While these vitamins are well known for their effects on bone and immune health, vitamin K2 and D3 are also becoming popularized for their effects on the cardiovascular system, mainly due to their impact on blood vessel health. A combination supplement like this one is a great option for anyone wanting to support bone health, but just like berries, the health benefits are more than what meets the eye!
Berry Benefits for Eye Health
Speaking of eyes, we couldn’t forget the power of berries for eye health! Remember those anthocyanins we just mentioned? They’re also great for protecting against many different conditions of the eye. While the common blueberry is often mentioned for their impact on eye health and macular degeneration, it’s actually the bilberry that should have your attention! When it comes to disorders like cataracts, dryness, eye fatigue, and glaucoma the bilberry has long been used to support retinal health. On top of this, one of the most well-known effects of the bilberry is its fortitude for improving night vision, although the research is still out on that one! It is thought that the anthocyanin and antioxidant power of these berries support collagen production and retinal structure while also providing extra protection against UV rays for the delicate vessels of the eye. Whether you favor the blueberry or the bilberry, they’re both among the healthiest berries (or foods in general) for eye health.
Berry Benefits for Immunity
Our immune system requires a nutrient-dense diet to function optimally. When you look at nutrient content you’d be pleasantly surprised to know that the health benefits of berries include immune support, for many reasons! These colorful treats are often packed full of antioxidants which can be used to ‘disarm’ harmful elements in the body that would otherwise be damaging to our cells. Many types of berries - blueberries, blackberries, lingonberries - also have some pretty impressive anti-inflammatory effects. When it comes to immunity, inflammation is a natural process and is a protective mechanism, but when that inflammation becomes chronic it becomes a burden for our immune system and can significantly affect human health as a whole, and we don’t want that! As you’ll soon find out, berries are great for our intestinal system too, which also plays a large role in our immune system.
Berry Benefits for Gut Health
Many fibrous foods are great for gut health, but there are some that stand above the rest when it comes to keeping our microbiome healthy. In this case, we’re talking about the lingonberry! Not only does the lingonberry have the antioxidant and anthocyanin power of many of our previously mentioned berries, it also has the ability to modify the microscopic ecosystem in our intestines! If you haven’t previously heard of the gut microbiome, this is the term used to describe our vast bacterial network that exists in our digestive system. These bacteria contribute to many aspects of our health, including mental, cardiovascular, and obviously our digestive capacity too.
We’re still learning about the many impacts of gut bacteria, but when it comes to lingonberries we know a few very promising things. Firstly, lingonberries may have the potential to alter the gut bacterial balance in favor of reducing low grade, chronic inflammation. They also shift bacterial balance to support healthy body composition. You might be wondering, how could that be possible? Well, there are many different kinds of bacteria that naturally occur in the gut. Some are better at extracting energy from undigested food particles, which favours weight gain. Some are able to inhibit the chemicals that break down food particles, like fat, which favours weight loss. Your gut bacteria as an individual will be different from your neighbour’s because of differences in lifestyle, diet, genetics, medication use, and many other factors, but when it comes to addressing health as a whole, we can use certain foods to our advantage when they have the ability to modify the gut environment. Pretty amazing, right? As the medical community is still learning about the far-reaching effects that our gut bacteria have on our overall health, it’s more important than ever to consume foods that support our microscopic intestinal friends!
Is lingonberry ringing a bell? You may have noticed our products like Sporty Boost Recovery, that features a range of vitamins and minerals to support energy levels and performance. The lingonberry is a perfect fit for this formula not just because of its health benefits for the gut, but because of its potent antioxidant effects which makes it a health-supporting superstar!