Typically, a berry is a small, pulpy and often an edible fruit. They are juicy, rounded, brightly coloured, and sweet or sour and do not have a stone or pit, although they may have many seeds or pips. Common examples are strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, red currants, black currants, etc. Berries are eaten all over the world and are often used in jam, preserves, cake and pies.
Once ripened, berries turn out to be highly colourful due to the natural plant pigments mainly anthocyanins and other flavonoids which makes them beneficial both health wise and nutritionally.
Berries have some very special body protecting properties that have made them valuable and to be named as wonder foods or super foods. Various scientific studies have revealed berries as extremely healthy and indicate that they should be part of our daily diet owing to their high antioxidant levels. The polyphenols and the antioxidants make them good for your heart, brain and even your skin. These super fruits can be a delicious addition to your breakfast bowl, mid-day snack or evening salad.
Well the imported berries like cranberry or blueberry have gained much popularity owing to their great taste, or being added to different sweet delicacies or increased availability in Indian supermarkets. But here we shall focus on the Indian variants and their medicinal or nutritional importance. They deserve our attention as they probably are healthier being locally cultivated and less treated.
Let’s have a look at five of the most common Indian berries and their health properties:
Indian emblic is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat amla in dried form after meals to aid digestion, as a preserve or murabba, in Chawanprash or steeped in salt water and red chilli to make sour fruit palatable. Amla has been used in Ayurveda for a long time now. In fact all parts of amla plant are used in ayurvedic and unani medicine. Amla is rich in Vitamin C and helps in boosting immunity, slowing down ageing, treating throat infection, reducing blood sugar level, and improving heart health.
Amla is a good diuretic and helps in flushing out toxins from body, aids in food absorption, balances stomach aids, protects liver, nourishes brain and mental functioning, enhances fertility, improves skin and hair quality.
It is a small orange berry fruit having a tarty taste. Cape gooseberry has abundant vitamin C probably more than lemon, hence good for our skin and immunity. It also contains good amount of vitamin A making it important for eye health preventing cataract and other age-related macular degeneration. It even helps in controlling blood pressure, blood cholesterol and protects our heart. Being high in calcium and phosphorus, these berries help in making our bones stronger.
Fibre present in the fruit promotes digestion, weight loss and is also good for diabetics. Its anti-inflammatory properties makes it good natural remedy to reduce or prevent inflammations in the body and eases pain, redness and asmatic spasm. You can have them fresh or as a topping for desserts or puddings.
Mulberries are a real super food that you can munch upon. The dried ones have a natural sweet taste providing high levels of protein, iron, vitamin C, fibre, calcium and antioxidants.
Mulberries have a high amount of antioxidative properties owing to the high amount of anthocyanins present in the fruit. Hence it has anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing properties, improves blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for heart diseases. It has plenty of fibre which is known for reducing blood sugar, blood cholesterol, improving digestion and promoting healthy weight loss.
Vitamin C present in the berries adds to the antioxidant property of the fruit supporting immune system, repairing tissues and protecting vision and the content is probably higher than that of orange. Also the high amount of protein, iron and calcium makes these berries nutritionally very superior.
Dried berries have a slightly crunchy texture and can be eaten straight away or may be added to granola bars, cookies or trail mixes, mixed in yogurt, smoothies or salad.
A wonder heart shaped fruit is really good for you not only for its taste or beautiful appearance but because of its potential health and nutritional benefits.
A powerhouse package of Vitamin C & K, fibre, folic acid, manganese, potassium; strawberries are sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free low calorie food. The nutritional content of strawberries are potent enough to protect your heart, increase HDL level, lower blood pressure and protect against cancer.
These bright red fruits can be eaten as such or in salads, smoothies, or ice-creams, as toppings in yogurt, puddings, cereal bowls, fruit tarts, and other sweet delicacies. Leaves are also used to make tea.
Jamun or black plum is an important summer fruit in India associated with many health and nutritional benefits. It is highly effective in relieving stomach pain, flatulence, bowel spasm, and dysentery. Vinegar made from jamun is good for curing enlarged spleen, diarrhoea or urine retention. Black plum is carminative, anti-scorbutic and diuretic. The polyphenolic compounds are the fighter against cancer, heart ailments, diabetes, asthma and arthritis.
Various scientific studies have shown jamun fruit and jamun leaves to be good for diabetes patient owing to its low glycemic index. The decoction of the bark and powdered seeds is good in reducing the symptoms of diabetes like frequent urination and thirst.Jamun seeds are also effective against acne and other skin problems. Paste of seeds or the pulp mixed with rose water can help in getting rid of oily skin.
Fruit contains calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and fibre making it a complete package. Vitamin C and iron helps in maintaining the haemoglobin level. Potassium helps in maintaining blood pressure and prevents strokes.
Black plum also has astringent properties and is good for skin care. It prevents or reduces problems of acne, blemishes, pimples and wrinkles.Jamun can also be helpful in liver diseases, and in treatment of diarrhoea and ulcers. You can have the fruit as such or in fresh fruit salads. A glass of fresh juice can be refreshing break in summers.