You’ve probably heard about superfoods. Superfood means that this food product contains large amounts of useful nutrients. Exotic fruits are often considered superfoods, but in fact, there are also superfoods that are found in Nordic nature. These are berries – blueberries, cranberries, cowberries, sea buckthorns, black currants, strawberries, chokeberries, raspberries.
It is quite common to eat fresh berries during summer and autumn. But the berries should also be consumed in the winter: use frozen berries and add them to different foods, drink berry juices or add berry powders to your favorite meals.
What makes Nordic berries superfoods?
Wild berries are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, which function as antioxidants reduce the effect of free radicals in the body. For example, plants synthesize said compounds against pathogenic organisms which produces the pigments that color the berries.
Free radicals are compounds that are produced in the human body during metabolic processes. In fact, they do not even hurt us if there is a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. However, if this balance is out of place, our bodies are endangered by a variety of diseases. Free radicals damage cells, which can cause premature aging, cancer, and many other serious diseases.
In addition to the unbalanced diet, the number of free radicals increases, for example, due to exposure to pollution, smoking, alcohol, infections, drugs, etc. An effective way to strengthen the body against free radicals is to eat foods rich in antioxidants. According to studies, foods with a high content of polyphenols, such as berries, can reduce the risk of contracting various diseases.
In the Nordic climate, there is less sunlight and, therefore, the plants need to grow strongly during the short summer. They accumulate much strength and power of nature to survive cold winters. Because of this, Nordic wild berries and garden berries are richer in nutrients than cultivated berries or fruits grown under the hot sun.
For example, the light flesh of the cultivated cranberry contains no pigments. As a result, the content of anthocyanins in the common wild blueberry (400 mg / 100 g) is on average twice as high as compared to the cultivated cranberry (garden). The cultivated cranberry also contains less vitamin C.
Would you like to strengthen the body and prevent diseases?
Thanks to the anthocyanins, the berries are a great food for the prevention of diseases and, of course, for the sick, since they have strong anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune system improvement properties. (1, 2) This means that the berries help to strengthen the body and, therefore, to deal better with the pathogens and, if you are sick, get rid of them faster.
For the normal functioning of the immune system, the body produces natural killer cells (NK cells) that protect against tumors and viruses. The study has found that people who ate blueberries daily, had their bodies producing more NK cells than people who did not eat berries. (3)
Studies have also found that the berries and polyphenols in them have the ability to protect against the influenza virus. (4) Berries can provide protection even against Coliform and Salmonella bacteria. (5, 6)
For quercetin, an anti-inflammatory polyphenol in berries, has been found to be particularly effective in reducing the risk of becoming ill after intense training.
The berries also contain a large amount of vitamin C, which in turn increases your immune-enhancing properties. The blackcurrant from Estonia contains 100 to 200 mg of vitamin C per 100 g, which is more than in the acai and the Inca berries which are also referred to as superfoods. To satisfy the body’s need for vitamin C, it is sufficient to eat 25-50 g of blackcurrant berries or drink blackcurrant juice every day.
From good memory to normalized blood pressure and against tumors
Due to oxidative stress and the properties of inflammation-reducing of bioactive substances, berries also help reduce the risk of many other diseases, such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the central nervous system and others. (8) Polyphenols are a great food for intestinal bacteria, and can also help prevent weight gain.
Oxidative stress and inflammation also play a role in the development of degenerative diseases of the brain, and polyphenols, provided by the regular consumption of cranberry juice helped the elderly people to improve their memory. (9)
Polyphenols can promote bone health and density through the stimulation of new growth of the bone marrow. Several studies have shown that taking fruit juices rich in polyphenols, such as grape juice, wild blueberry or strawberry juice for 6 to 12 weeks can lower high blood pressure. (10, 11)
Several studies have also found that cranberries and blueberries and juices or powders made from them help protect the liver and support its functioning. (12, 13) By regularly eating these berries, you ensure that the liver receives enough antioxidants to stay healthy.
People who work daily with computers should definitely eat a lot of blueberries, as they relieve eye fatigue.
Prefer the wild berries to the cultivated ones and the organic berries grown without pesticides or fertilizers. For finished products, such as juices and jams, monitor both the volume of the berries and the sugar content of their composition so that the beneficial effects of the berries are not blocked by the excess of white sugar, which weakens the immune system during the flu season.