Health Benefits of Berries

By Irina Bright

This article is part of our Health & Foods section

It has been well known for decades now, that berries are amongst the biggest sources of antioxidants found in foods for human consumption.


raspberries in a cup Photo: Ashley Winkler

Berries As Antioxidants

What Exactly are Nutritional Antioxidants?

Berries as Functional Foods

Berries as Detoxifiers

Some Outstanding Berries & Their Health Benefits

      Camu Camu Berry
      Maqui Berry

Berries as Sources of Exceptional Nutrients

Berries as Boosts of Energy Levels




Health Benefits of Berries As Antioxidants

Of course, it is all about the incredible antioxidants inside the berries.

Over the last 10 - 15 years, we have seen a lot of renewed discussion about the nutritional value of antioxidants and phytonutrients found in raw berries and fruits.

But just why are they so valuable for our health?

We know that so-called free radicals are created as a result of normal processes taking place within the cells of our body to generate energy.

The problem is that at high concentrations, free radicals cause oxidative stress that can be very harmful to our health. (Ref. 1)

Oxidative stress is a root cause of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, as well as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. (Ref. 1)

You may ask: If free radicals are a result of normal biological processes - why do we need to fight them?

The answer is: Many of us have UNHEALTHILY HIGH concentrations of free radicals.

Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals and, therefore, oxidative stress. Antioxidants are widely known as free radical scavengers.

Our body is a very wise mechanism - it has a built-in capacity to produce antioxidants internally.

However, due to polluted food that we eat, water that we drink and air that we breathe; as well as stress, overwork and negative thinking - the body is frequently overwhelmed with free radicals and other toxins and is unable to fight oxidative stress effectively.

Also, when an antioxidant destroys a free radical, it becomes oxidised itself and has to be, once again, replenished by the body.

So, in addition to internally-produced antioxidants, we are lucky enough to have raw and whole foods as a great source of externally-available nutritional antioxidants.

This is exactly what we are talking about here, fantastic!

What Exactly are Nutritional Antioxidants?

We can loosely classify nutritional antioxidants as essential nutrients and phytonutrients.

Essential nutrients - which at the same time play the role of antioxidants - are a number of vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are very familiar to us.

For example, vitamin C is perhaps the best-known water-soluble antioxidant which leaves the body within a couple of hours of entering it, and needs to be regularly replaced.

Vitamin E, on the other hand, is a fat-soluble antioxidant - it therefore stays in the body for longer than water-soluble antioxidants (ex., vitamin C) but nonetheless needs to be present in sufficient amounts as well. (Ref. 1)

Some other important essential antioxidant nutrients are minerals, for example: copper, selenium and zinc. (Ref. 2)

whole berries, basket

Phytonutrients are less known to the general public than vitamins and minerals. For a long time, they have been considered to be non-essential; that is, the ones that “we can live without” - unlike, for example, essential nutrients.

But more and more research demonstrates indisputable antioxidant properties of phytonutrients, especially the ones found in berries. (Ref. 3)

There are literally hundreds of different types of phytonutrients.

In fact, the most recent statistics is that around 200,000 phytonutrients - also known as plants’ secondary metabolites - have been officially described so far, and a lot more is still unknown. (Ref. 4)

Phenolic compounds are among the most notable phytonutrients that are present in berries.

Here is a rough classification of phenolic compounds of berries (Ref. 3):

Phenolic acids:

  • Hidroxy-cinnamic acids - caffeic, ferulic, p-coumaric,
  • Hidroxy-benzoic acids - gallic, vanillic, protocatechuic acids.


  • Anthocyanins - cyanidin, pelargonidin, delphinidin, peonidin, mavidin,
  • Flavonols - quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol,
  • Flavonols (catechins) - catechin, epicatechin, gallocatechin, apigallocatechin.


  • Proanthocyanidins, condensed tannins.
  • Ellagitannins, hydrolyzable tannins.


  • Resveratrol.
  • Pterostilbene.
  • Picetannol.


Below we show how phytonutrients and other antioxidants support the detoxification process and other biological functions which are so important for strong health.

Health Benefits of Berries as Functional Foods

These days, many researchers refer to berries as functional foods, or medicinal foods. (Ref. 3)

Here is an interesting definition of functional foods:

A food can be regarded as functional if it is satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially one or more target functions in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, thus either improving the general physical conditions or/and decreasing the risk of the generation of diseases. (Ref. 5)

We believe that one major target function that can be improved with the consumption of berries is the continuous detoxification of the body - because it can help with prevention and treatment of chronic illness.

Health Benefits of Berries as Detoxifiers

We know that excessive levels of free radicals and other reactive oxidant species (ROS) cause oxidation-related toxicity within the body.

Such toxicity may induce chronic disease, including cancer, cardiovascular disorders, neurological disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, renal disorders, macular degeneration and cataracts, to name a few major conditions. (Ref. 1)

We also know that berry antioxidants are able to effectively fight and neutralise free radicals and ROS.

So, detoxification of the body with the help of numerous antioxidants is a major benefit of consuming berries on a regular basis.

Prevention and Treatment of Disease

Thanks to detoxification, prevention and treatment of medical conditions become achievable within a wider framework of nutritional therapy.

Experts point out that “phenolics [found in berries] contribute to the protection against degenerative diseases, and their effects on health have been mostly attributed to their antioxidant properties.” (Ref. 3)

And if antioxidants are able to protect the body from future damage, then they may be potentially used to treat an existing medical condition.

Other Medicinal Properties of Berries

Berries are likely to deliver further benefits related to detoxification.

For example, recent studies suggest that berry phenolics may also act as antimicrobials. This could be very useful in the control of many pathogens, especially in view of recent problems associated with antibiotic resistance. (Ref. 3)

In addition to that, a variety of berry phenolic compounds have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-aging, algicidal, anti-mutagenic, anti-cancerogenic properties. (Ref. 3)

Some Outstanding Berries and Their Health Benefits

Now, let’s take a look at existing knowledge and examine antioxidant effects and health benefits of some outstanding berries.

The list of antioxidants below is by no means exhaustive.

Blackberry (Ref. 28, 29, 30 & 31)

blackberry berries Beautiful blackberries.


  • Flavonoids - catechin, procyanidin, quercetin.
  • Anthocyanins - malvidin.
  • Stilbenes - resveratrol, astringin
  • Gallic acid.

Essential nutrients and other compounds:

  • Vitamins: C, E.
  • Other compounds: folic acid, calcium, selenium, carotene, lutein.

General action and these berries' health benefits:

  • Antioxidant activity;
  • Vasodilatory activity - widening of blood vessels;
  • Cardioprotective and anti-diabetic activity;
  • Protection against, and treatment of cancer;
  • Liver protection;
  • Vision improvement.

Camu Camu Berry (Ref. 7)

camu camu berries, whole Camu camu berries.


  • Flavonols: catechin, quercetin, rutin, kaempferol.
  • Flavonones: naringenin, eriodyctyol.
  • Anthocyanins: delphidinin, cyanidin.
  • Ellagic acid, gallic acid.

Essential nutrients and other compounds:

  • Vitamins, minerals, trace elements: vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc.
  • Amino acids: serine, valine, leucine.
  • Fatty acids: stearic, linoleic, oleic, γ-linolenic, α-linolenic, tricosanoic, eicosadienoic.
  • Carotenoids, incl. neoxanthin, violaxanthin, luteoxanthin, zeaxanthin.
  • Pectin.
  • Volatile compounds - 21 in total.

General action and these berries' health benefits:

  • Antioxidant activity - with vitamin C contributing around 70% of the total antioxidant capacity, reduced oxidative stress;
  • Polyphenol activity - may delay or prevent various diseases;
  • Carotenoid activity - may improve vision;
  • Anti-inflammatory activity;
  • Antimicrobial activity - may work against Staphylococcus aureus.

Lingonberry (Ref. 3, 12 & 13)

lingonberry, whole Wonderful lingonberries.


  • Caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, catechin, procyanidin, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, kaempferol.
  • Anthocyanins: delphinidin, cyanidin, petunidin, peonidin, malvidin.
  • Stilbenes - resveratrol, pterostilbene, piceatannol.

Essential nutrients and other compounds:

  • Vitamins: A, C, E.

General action and these berries' health benefits:

  • Antioxidant activity - thanks to flavanols and other antioxidants;
  • Anti-cancerogenic activity;
  • Anti-bacterial activity;
  • Hepatoprotective activity;
  • Prevention of metabolic disorders related to high-fat diets;
  • Could be useful for obesity prevention.

Rosehip (Ref. 23, 24 & 25)

rosehip Lovely rosehips.


  • Catechins, proanthocyanidins, rutin, quercetin, cyanidin.

Essential nutrients and other compounds:

  • Vitamins: A, C, E, K; minerals: potassium, calcium, iron, manganese.
  • Fatty acids: linoleic, oleic, linolenic, palmitic, stearic and arachidonic acid.
  • Other compounds: carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, betaine.

General action and these berries' health benefits:

  • Antioxidant activity - thanks to its phenolic content;
  • Antimutagenic activity;
  • Anti-cancerogenic activity;
  • Antibacterial activity - against Staphylococcus aures;
  • Antidiabetic activity - most likely thanks to monosaccharids, oligosaccharids and pectins;
  • Folk medicine - prevention and therapy of common cold and other infections, as a diuretic agent, against diarrhoea, against various inflammatory diseases.
  • May help with osteoarthritis.

Cranberry (Ref. 29, 32, 33, 34 & 35)

cranberry Amazing cranberries.


  • Proanthanthocyanidins - epicatechin.
  • Flavonols - quercetin, myricetin.
  • Anthocyanins.

Essential nutrients and other compounds:

  • Vitamins: C, E.
  • Other compounds: folic acid, calcium, selenium, carotene, lutein.

General action and these berries' health benefits:

  • Antioxidant activity;
  • Anti-inflammatory activity;
  • Cardioprotective activity;
  • Improvements in glucose metabolism, lipid peroxidation;
  • Anti-cancerogenic activity;
  • Antibacterial & antimicrobial activity - against Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, E-coli and Helicobacter pylori;
  • Works against urinary tract infections.

Maqui Berry (Ref. 55, 56 & 57)

maqui berry Maqui berries are
very exotic on taste.


  • Gentisic acid, ferulic acid, gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, sinapic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid.
  • Anthocyanins: delphinidin, cyanidin.
  • Several glycosides of anthocyanidins.
  • Proanthocyanidin B.
  • Flavonols: quercetin, rutin, myricetin.
  • Flavonols (catechins): catechin, epi-catechin.

Essential nutrients and other compounds:

  • Vitamin C, high content.

General action and these berries' health benefits:

  • Antioxidant activity;
  • Cardio-protective activity;
  • Folk medicine: Maqui leaves used for diarrhea, amygdalitis, pharyngitis and oral ulcers; as anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and analgesic agents; for wound healing and scarring.

Health Benefits of Berries as Continuous Sources of Supply of Exceptional Nutrients

We have just seen how rich in healthy nutrition berries are.

And we know that continuous supply of essential nutrients is a must for strong health.

Berries are an excellent and easy way to top up on totally natural, *food-source* vitamins, minerals and endless antioxidants.

They are a great solution for your daily nutritional needs because, nowadays, *eating healthy* is a real challenge for millions of people around the world, even in economically-advanced areas.

But why?

First of all, even if we do eat organic foods, the soils that organic foods grow in have become very depleted of nutrients, after many decades of heavily-industrialised farming. That means that when we consume such foods, we don’t get all the nutrition our bodies require - causing long-term nutrient deficiencies.

Second, industrialised practices of modern-day non-organic farming, with the wide-spread use of harmful chemicals, result in highly-polluted foods. So, when we consume such non-organic foods, harmful chemicals go straight into our blood and cause long-term toxicity.

Third, over-processing and over-cooking of foods destroy nutrition even further, killing off enzymes and whatever else is left of “healthiness” in the foods. Highly processed and cooked foods usually cause long-term acidity within our bodies.

As we know, nutrient deficiencies, toxicity and acidy inside our bodies may lead to undesirable effects, such as long-term medical conditions.

To add to all of the above, essential nutrients and phytonutrients found in berries are easily absorbable and highly bioavailable. There is absolutely no comparison to synthetic, industrially-produced, isolated “multi-vitamins” here.

So, berry nutrition may have a potential to help with prevention and treatment of chronic illness as well.

Health Benefits of Berries as Boosts of Energy Levels

Needless to say that such berry nutrition will help boost our energy levels, in a very natural way.

Berries are functional foods, and as such they deliver a lot more than just a random collection of nutrients.

They encourage the body to work better and perform all the functions it is supposed to perform, very efficiently.

One of the body’s most important biological functions is, of course, stable energy levels.

Thanks to their extremely high content of phytonutrients, berries provide us with an amazing antioxidant boost, keeping our systems detoxed and allowing our energy levels to surge in a clean and favourable environment.


So, to summarise the most important points and advantages of consuming berries, we would like to encourage you to take them on a regular basis, for the following benefits:

blueberries raspberries on plate Photo: Cecilia Par
  • Ongoing detoxification of the body - thanks to exceptional levels of antioxidants, specifically phytonutrients;
  • Continuous supply of essential nutrients - vitamins, minerals & trace elements from numerous berries, all in just one product;
  • Stable energy levels - thanks to the improved function of the immune system and metabolism.

In other words, berries may be especially useful for:

  • Ongoing maintenance of good health;
  • Prevention of nutrient deficiencies and removal of toxins;
  • Prevention and treatment of potential long-term illness.

Absolutely any of us will find the consumption of berries beneficial.

Additionally, specific groups of people such as athletes or people with high physical work loads, will benefit from them even more. People working in urban areas and spending a lot of time in office buildings, with lack of fresh air, may also find berries very useful.

Berries can also be a fantastic ingredient in raw cooking.

We want you to FALL IN LOVE with berries - and why not!

Written and researched by:     Irina Bright
Original publication date:     2014
Updates:     2020
Republication date:     2020


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