Berries: A daily habit for health

17 Apr 2024

Berries are a fantastic addition to your weekly meals. Packed with anthocyanins, they offer many health benefits, from sharpening memory to reducing the risk of heart attack.

3 benefits of eating more berries

  1. To improve your memory & brain activity – In trials, people given berry-based supplements (frozen, concentrate, beverage or powder) experienced improved memory, processing speed and accuracy on attention tasks.
  2. To help manage blood sugar & lower your risk of type 2 diabetes – Berries are high in fibre and lower in sugar than other fruits. Over time, eating more berries was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. In people with diabetes, blueberry or cranberry supplementation lowered fasting blood glucose.
  3. To lower your risk of heart disease & help you live longer – Regular consumption of berries is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death from any cause. Adding berries to people’s diet also lowered their total cholesterol and markers of chronic inflammation.


    What’s so special about them? It’s easy to forget when you taste their sweet colourful flesh that berries are among the top sources of vitamins, minerals and health-promoting polyphenols. They give you:

    • Anthocyanins - a major class of flavonoids that are well-researched for their health benefits. They may lower proinflammatory cytokines, increase neuroplasticity (essential for learning and memory), neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) and the production of a growth factor called BDNF. Powerful stuff!
    • Plus, abundant soluble fibres, manganese, vitamins C and K, and other polyphenols.

They’re nothing new…

People have been eating them for thousands of years, especially the Indigenous Peoples of North America. They not only used berries as food but also passed down valuable knowledge about using different parts of these plants—fruits, leaves, and roots—for healing purposes.

Take the low-bush blueberry, for example. They discovered its leaves and roots could ease inflammation and used it to treat rheumatism, colic in infants and to induce labour.

Read more in this great paper published in the journal ‘Botany’ about current knowledge and traditional uses of major species of berry-producing plants in Canada.

How to eat more

How much? At least one 80g portion of whole berries most days – for example about 7 strawberries or 2 handfuls (4 heaped tablespoons) of frozen blueberries.

Organic if you can: Berries might be worth buying organic. According to the non-profit PAN, over 80% of the samples of strawberries, grapes and cherries tested in 2022 contained residues of PFAS pesticides.

…or rinse them well: Soaking fresh berries in water and vinegar or salt and then rinsing with running water can help remove pesticide residues, according to research.

Budget tips: Depending on the season and where you live, berries can be more expensive than other fruits. A few tips to help:

  • Go frozen. They are convenient, cheaper and retain the nutrients, polyphenols and antioxidant capacity of fresh ones. To use them, thaw them overnight or simmer for a few seconds on the stove.
  • Make the most of berry season: In the UK, you can find homegrown berries for cheaper prices from June to October, depending on the variety. Strawberries are usually the first to arrive, followed by raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants and blueberries.
  • If you can’t get your hands on berries, many other fruits are rich in polyphenols, like apples, kiwis, oranges and grapefruits.

5 ways to eat more berries

  1. Berry sauce: Make a batch of berry sauce or compote by simmering frozen berries with lemon juice and a little water until soft and saucy. Store in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge to add to your meals throughout the week. Use it as a topping for yoghurt, oats and pancakes. Make it savoury by adding balsamic vinegar, fresh thyme and salt to top grilled fish or chicken.
  2. For breakfast: Throw them into smoothies, yoghurt bowls, or oats, either whole or cooked down into a compote. Go savoury by layering sliced strawberries or blueberries on avocado toast or even an omelette for a surprising burst of flavour!
  3. Brainpower snack: Pack a small container of berries to have on the go or add them to homemade oat bars, smoothies, yoghurt bark and nut butter toasts.
  4. Salads & mains: Try simmering and cooling cranberries or blueberries to create a flavourful salad dressing with lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil. You can also toss fresh berries on salads and grain bowls.
  5. Dessert: Make berries part of your evening ritual by having them for dessert or sipping on berry-infused tea.


Dive Deeper

Brain function: Bonyadi et al. 2022

Type 2 diabetes: Delpino et al. 2022 | Guo et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016

Heart health: Huang et al. Sci Rep. 2016



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