In this post, we analyze the nutrients In berries for 9 different varieties. We see how dense they are in each vitamin and mineral, as well as other nutrients like fiber, protein, sugar, and several phytonutrients.
When analyzed by nutrient density (how many nutrients per calorie of energy), most berries take several of the top spots on our list ranking 75 of the healthiest fruits.
Most of the healthiest berries are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other phytonutrients.
They’re also low in calories. That means nutrients in berries are dense. That’s a good thing, because for all of the calorie you consume throughout the day, you want to make sure healthy nutrients are coming along for the ride!
Here, we analyze the nutrients in 9 berry varieties using information from the USDA Food Composition Database.
After taking into account all metrics of healthy and unhealthy nutrients, raspberries top our list of the healthiest berries!
See a snapshot of our analysis, below. We have also built an interactive chart, here.
Berries have very low sodium, high potassium, and high calcium. This is a good thing.
Too much sodium can be a risk factor for developing hypertension if not balanced out with hypotensive minerals like potassium and calcium.
Therefore, this list of the healthiest berries are all good choices for those looking for delicious foods that can be low in sodium.
Berries, like most fruits, are low in fat. For those looking to balance their diets with low-fat calories, berries will make a perfect addition! But for those who already have too little fat in their diet, look elsewhere.
Remember, the key to a healthy diet is a well-balance one!
It’s important to keep sugar consumption down, as we already eat far too much.
But sugar density alone isn’t the best measure for understanding which foods produce the most negative health effects.
Other nutrients present in whole foods affect sugar differently than when it’s by itself.
That’s why packaged, processed foods loaded with added sugar are worse for your health than, say, the fruits like berries that also have lots of sugar.
One of the main reasons is fiber.
Fiber helps attenuate the negative effects of sugar. This is why, despite their high sugar density, fruits are still very good for your health.
While elderberries contain the most fiber per gram, raspberries and blackberries contain the most fiber per-calorie.
Raspberries and blackberries are also two of the lowest on the list of sugar. (Note: sugar data was not available for elderberries, gooseberries, and oheloberries.)
Therefore, raspberries have the highest fiber-to-sugar ratio. That means, the sugar content in raspberries have least negative health effects because the higher fiber content helps slow its absorption rate and decrease the body’s response to a high sugar load.
Check out the interactive chart, here.
Berries are high in fiber and low in calories. This combination means they are fiber-dense.
And fiber-dense foods are great for weight loss.
It’s also important to keep sugar consumption down, as we already eat far too much.
The sugar-to-fiber ratio is another ratio that helps assess the sugar content of your foods.
That’s because fiber can help attenuate the negative effects of sugar. This is why, despite their high sugar density, fruits are still very good for your health.
The sweet potato, again, comes in last place with its relatively higher sugar content.
The russet potato, despite its low fiber content, has very low sugar content and ranks the best (as having the lowest) sugar-to-fiber ratio.
See the interactive chart, here.
Phytochemicals encompass a broad swath of nutrients found in plants that we are only just starting to research in more detail regarding health.
And although most of them do not have recommended dietary intake references or have definitive data regarding their precise health benefits, the research is starting to pile on in their favor.
For example, many flavanoids are among the most heavily researched and also among the most promising.
The following chart shows the concentration of some key phytochemicals found in the USDA Food Database for these berries. (Note: Oheloberries did not contain phytochemical data and is omitted.)
Elderberries contain the highest density of cyanidin, following be blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries.
Blackberries have the highest density of catechins, elderberries have the highest density of quercetin, and blueberries have the highest density of kaempferol.
And most berries contain lutein and zeaxanthin, with the highest density berries being mulberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
See a snapshot of the phytochemical analysis below, and use the interactive chart, here!
After taking into account the mineral density, the vitamin density, the macronutrient balance, the sugar-to-fiber ratio, the sodium-to-potassium ratio, and the phytochemical profile, raspberries are the healthiest berry.
On the other hand, strawberries have the best combination of high fiber and low calories that make them the best berries for weight loss.
But all berries, including those near the bottom of our list, are still incredibly healthy and make a great addition to any well-balanced diet!
Where does your favorite fall on the list?
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