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Here is an in-depth look at some of the most powerful and nutritious berries in the world. It is likely you’ve never heard of most of them, but I suggest giving them a try – you won’t regret it.
Acai berries, which come from the acai palm tree in Central and South America, are loaded with nutrients. They contain anthocyanins and falvonoids, which are antioxidants that help protect the body from life’s stressors and from disease. Studies have found that the pulp of an acai fruit has more antioxidants than other, more popular berries such as cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Acai berries can help combat premature aging, provide you with healthy fats and fiber, and promote digestive health. The fatty acid content of acai berries is similar to that of olive oil. Acai is sold in powder form, which makes a delicious addition to smoothies, milkshakes, yogurt, desserts, and granola. You can also buy acai sorbet and smoothie packs, which are solid acai puree.
Chinese monks use Goji berries, commonly referred to as “red diamonds,” for medicinal purposes. These berries have been used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems. They are high in antioxidants and rich in vitamin A. These compounds boost the immune system and give them anti-aging benefits. Goji berries are a good source of protein, essential amino acids, and contain over 20 vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and iron. Goji berries can be eaten raw, cooked, dried, or in juice form. Dried Goji berries are the most common and make a great addition to trail mix, oatmeal, cereal, cookies, and yogurt. Try freezing them and eating them alone, or add them to smoothies.
This mouth-puckering fruit comes from the herbaceous perennial Chinese lantern Physalis peruviana. They are yellowish-orange with embedded seeds. Goldenberries were harvested thousands of years ago in the Incan Empire and are also known as Incan berries or cape gooseberries. They grow in warm climates in South America. Once they are harvested, goldenberries are sun-dried and develop a citrus-like flavor. The sun-drying process leaves them with a thick, wrinkly skin and a chewy interior, similar to that of a kumquat. These berries are best known for their abundance of carotene and vitamin P, which encourage anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Goldenberries are a wonderful source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and are loaded with fiber, protein, and phosphorus. They are sweet both sweet and sour. Try adding them to muffins, baked goods, desserts, trail mix, oatmeal, yogurt, jam, salads and smoothies.
Mulberries come from the Morus plant. Mulberry trees originated thousands of years ago on the Silk Road from China to Turkey. These berries were precious for trade, as their leaves were used as food for silk worms. Today, mulberries are still crucial to the Turkish cultural tapestry. They are shaken off the tree and then sun-dried to enhance their sweetness. Mulberries contain three grams of protein per ounce, as well as an abundance of iron, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. They are also full of resveratrol, an antioxidant that combats free-radical damage. Studies have found that the consumption of resveratrol promotes heart healthy and longevity. Mulberries are most similar to a fig, with the same chewiness and softness. They have a bit of a crunch and are a great candy or raisin alternative. Try adding mulberries to pancakes, granola, trail mix, oatmeal and smoothies.
By Emily Borgeest