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The Benefits of Berries

Red, Black & Blue are Berry Good for You!

-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer

Isn’t it wonderful when something that tastes so yummy is also good for you? That’s what you get when you enjoy the delicious, sweet flavor of berries. The pigments that give berries their deep red, blue, black and purple hues are powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants. It is believed that antioxidant-rich foods offer protection against conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

The scientific community measures the antioxidant levels in foods using the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test. The higher the ORAC value, the more antioxidants a food provides.

Scientists have discovered that berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits. Raspberries, for example, contain an especially high level of antioxidants—three times more than kiwis and 10 times more than tomatoes.

The average serving of fresh or lightly cooked produce provides between 600 and 800 ORAC units. But berries blow these values away—one cup of blueberries has an ORAC value of 5486, followed by blackberries at 4654, strawberries with 3520, and raspberries at 2789. Scientists believe that eating between 2000 and 5000 ORAC units daily may increase the body's antioxidant supply high enough to result in positive health outcomes.

Slightly tart and juicy, the raspberry is a nutritional powerhouse in a tiny package. Raspberries are rich in ellagic acid (which provides the majority of the berry's antioxidants), and anthocyanins (which give raspberries their deep, red color and exhibit antimicrobial properties). As if their high antioxidant content wasn’t enough, raspberries are also great sources of the vitamins and minerals riboflavin, niacin, folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese and vitamin C.

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