As the dark autumn sets in, energy is running low and mornings tend to feel awful. How to survive the darkest time of the year with grace?
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Adding berries to your daily diet might be a useful way to introduce wonderful refreshing flavours and overall health and well-being to our everyday life. Nutrition recommendations stress the importance of berries as a source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and a variety of polyphenols in a 'dense' form.
Sari Häkkinen completed her doctoral thesis on the polyphenol content of Finnish berries in 2002 and is currently the scientific expert in berry research at Roberts. According to Sari, over the last couple of decades a huge amount of research has been done in Finland and abroad on berries and their health benefits.
- The many positive effects of berries on well-being and staying alert are linked to vitamins and, according to the latest research, also to polyphenolic compounds such as anthocyanins. These decade-wide berry-related studies and references are tabulated on Roberts' page, and the latest research on the health benefits of berries is comprehensively summarised in a literature review done in the University of Eastern Finland (Törrönen, 2017), Sari Häkkinen tips.
BERRIES AND MEMORY
Among the positive research findings on berries are promising positive effects on memory and prevention of memory disorders. In a US study (2012) of women over 70 years of age, a group of subjects who consumed strawberries or wild bilberries twice a week showed positive effects on cognitive functioning.
In a Finnish study (2013), wild bilberries and blackcurrants (and their anthocyanins) have also been shown to improve the performance of test animals on tasks such as spatial memory. In a clinical study, a group that consumed a daily dose of
wild bilberries performed better on a word memory test and cognitive function tests than a control group (2017).
GREAT FOR THE EYES AND MUSCLES
According to a recent Japanese study (2015), the use of a bilberry product alleviated the symptoms of eye fatigue caused by working at a monitor. This is good news for people who work a lot in front computer screens, for example.
- In particular, the anthocyanins in wild bilberries and blackcurrants are thought to have positive effects on the eyes, according to various studies. There are indications that bilberries have a positive effect on the ability to see in dim light, but this has not been proven by recent clinical trials. A Korean study (2012) found that bilberries relieved the symptoms of glaucoma. A Japanese study (2013) found that people with myopia benefited from bilberry products. In addition, blackcurrant and its anthocyanins have been shown to have positive effects on upper limb circulation (2005). Consuming blackcurrant juice reduced shoulder muscle stiffness and improved blood circulation in the test group," says Sari Häkkinen.
BLOOD SUGAR UNDER CONTROL
Berries are very high in fibre, and they keep you full surprisingly well. Research has also shown that eating berries can help to level out unwanted blood sugar fluctuations.
- According to studies from the University of Eastern Finland (2012, 2013, 2017), wild bilberries, blackcurrants, and lingonberries, especially when eaten whole, have been shown to have a smoothing effect on post-meal blood glucose surges and/or insulin secretion. A berry snack may also help fight afternoon tiredness and is therefore a good way to have an energy boost during the working day," says Sari Häkkinen.
Many of the nutrients and polyphenols in berries are found in the skin and seeds. That's why whole berries and whole berry products are preferable in place of juices as snacks.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BERRY?
Blueberries contain vitamins C and E, anthocyanins and are also a good source of dietary fibre.
Sea buckthorn is rich in vitamins C and E, dietary fibre and beneficial fatty acids. It is also rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as proanthocyanins and flavonols from the polyphenol group.
Lingonberries contain vitamin E and are also rich in magnesium, fibre, proanthocyanins and anthocyanins.
Raspberry is rich in vitamin C and folate, as well as a wide range of minerals. Raspberry is also rich in ellagitannins and anthocyanins. One cup (2dl) of raspberries contains as much vitamin C as one tangerine.
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, fibre and from the polyphenol group, proanthocyanins and anthocyanins.
Blackcurrants are rich in vitamins C and A. Blackcurrant oil is rich in good fatty acids.
Strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges and as much dietary fibre as carrots. It is also high in anthocyanin and ellagitannins.
Cloudberry is high in vitamin C, vitamin E and ellagitannins. It is the most fibre-rich of all wild berries.
Source: Oy Roberts Ab
Expert: FT Sari Häkkinen