Popping fresh berries into your mouth is one of summer's greatest pleasures. But they deliver more than just a juicy burst of sweetness. Brightly colored power packs of nutrition, berries continually impress researchers with their ability to prevent disease and promote health. Although experts hesitate to say which berries are best — "We're just scratching the surface of berries' health benefits," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson David Grotto, R.D. — check out the current contenders.
83 calories per cup
Loaded with free radical-fighting antioxidants — no other berry has more — blueberries are one of nature's best protectors against cancer and heart disease. They're brain food as well, says James Joseph, chief neuroscientist at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. "They increase communication between neurons...and turn off oxidative stress and inflammation, which may promote Alzheimer's."
64 calories per cup
Raspberries are a great source of ellagic acid, a potent killer of cancer cells in lab tests (though that power has not been proven in clinical trials). In fact, the lesser-known black raspberry has "the highest number of cancer-preventing agents of any berry," says Ohio State University cancer prevention specialist Gary Stoner, Ph.D. Raspberries also have more fiber than any berry and most fruits, for that matter.
62 calories per cup
The darker the berry,the sweeter the juice — and the better for you. Blackberries, for instance, are loaded with anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. How powerful? Research suggests that they not only help lower cholesterol and blood pressure but may also play a role in keeping diabetes, heart disease, and cancer at bay.
46 calories per cup
The nation's favorite, strawberries pack up to three times more vitamin C than other berries, and fewer calories, too. Snack on them for folic acid, a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects, heart disease, and some cancers.
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