Everyone has nights when they simply have to have something to snack on. Instead of reaching for that piece of candy or that big bowl of ice cream, why not try berries? Ripe berries are delicious and are good for you.

Here are seven berries for that late-night snack that provide health benefits as well.

Blueberries
Blueberries are notorious for their antioxidant properties. They contain chemicals called anthocyanins that fight free radical molecules. Free radical molecules are oxygen molecules that cause damage to cells and even to a person’s DNA. Even freezing the blueberries doesn’t damage the anthocyanins free radical fighting properties, and you only need to put the blueberries under running water for a few minutes for them to thaw.

  • Blueberries have a low glycemic index, which means they don’t elevate the blood sugar levels when they’re eaten. This is true of other berries as well.
  • Blueberries are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, which relaxes muscles and aids in blood clotting and manganese.
  • They provide dietary fiber, which supports the health of the lower gastrointestinal tract.

Blackberries
Blackberries are aggregate fruits made up of tiny drupelets.

  • Like blueberries, they are rich in antioxidants and can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
  • They even keep skin taut and supple and bring clarity to the thought processes and memory.
  • Like blueberries, blackberries help the lower GI tract by reducing inflammation. Even the leaves of the blackberry are healthy, for they reduce gingivitis and can be used as a tea.

Strawberries
For centuries, women have been using mashed strawberries to freshen and rejuvenate their skin. You may be tempted to eat them with cream and sugar, but they are best eaten fresh.

  • Strawberries are also full of antioxidants and help regulate blood pressure.
  • They ease the symptoms of gout and other types of arthritis and heart disease by increasing levels of good cholesterol.
  • Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, potassium and manganese.

Goji Berries
Goji berries may seem exotic to Americans, but they’ve been used in China as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. They are just a little tart and are sometimes dried.

  • Goji berries are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, both antioxidants, fiber, iron and zinc.
  • They are even a good source of protein, which is unusual for fruit.
  • Some dietitians claim goji berries help people lose weight.

Raspberries
Raspberry is another aggregate fruit like the blackberry, but when it’s pulled off the vine the torus stays on the plant, resulting in a fruit with a hole in its center.

  • Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, the B complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus.
  • It contains a nutrient called rheosmin, also known as raspberry ketone which helps people lose weight by interfering with the action of pancreas lipase.
  • This is an enzyme that helps the body digest fat. It is a good berry to eat for people with type 2 diabetes.

Cranberries
Cranberries are famous for relieving urinary tract infections. The berry has a substance in it that makes it difficult for the bacteria to adhere to the tissues in the urinary tract. They do similar work for the oral cavity by stopping bacteria from producing acid that damages the enamel on the teeth.

Cranberries are full of dietary fiber and vitamin C and like other berries, they are also very low in calories.

Acai Berries
These berries, which look like blueberries or small grapes, differ from the other berries in that they’re a product of a palm tree.

  • These berries are said to have even more antioxidants than blueberries, and they promote healthy cholesterol levels, healthy skin and help people lose weight.
  • Acai berries are rich in vitamin A and amino acids.
  • The fat in acai berries is mostly oleic acid, like that in the olive.

Berries are an important part of a healthy diet. Low in calories but rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they support the vitality of just about every system in the body. So the next time you crave for a snack in the middle of the night, remember to opt for berries and see what a difference it makes to your overall mental and physical health.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Lia Crispell, CRNP

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