“Berries are incredibly good for you,” says leading nutritionist Amanda Ursell. “Even if you don’t think about any of their other amazing nutritional advantages, they are really low in calories so you can chomp away happily without piling on the pounds.”
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Britain's most popular berry is packed with vitamin C, vitamin B12, phytochemicals and anthocyanin antioxidants, which give the fruit its red hue and protect against all sorts of age-related conditions.
“Strawberries can legitimately claim to be heart protective, anti-inflammatory and have anti-cancer properties – all rolled into one,” says dietitian Nigel Denby.
Strawberries are low GI and high in fibre too, and daily consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as complications of diabetes such as neuropathy and kidney damage.
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They may not be as trendy as goji or acai berries but blackcurrants have been described as the ultimate superfruit.
"Most people are unaware of the nutritional benefits of the great British blackcurrant,” says dietitian Luci Daniels. “Blackcurrants are an excellent source of anthocyanins, important health-promoting antioxidants, known to help protect against ill-health, especially cancer and heart disease.”
In fact, blackcurrants have some of the highest levels of anthocyanins in our round-up and are super-rich in vitamin C, B vitamins and essential minerals – you can't go wrong.
Try our blackcurrant cordial recipe
Not just for Christmas, cranberries should ideally be eaten throughout the colder months of the year when they are in season. Studies show the ruby-red berries may lower the risk of heart disease and offer protection against gum disease. Contrary to popular belief however, there's no conclusive evidence cranberries can prevent or treat urinary tract infections, according to the NHS.
Still, it's definitely worth your while adding cranberries to your shopping list. They make for a good source of vitamin C, manganese and fibre and also contain vitamin E, vitamin K and copper.
Brown and wild rice pilaff with cranberries
Raspberries are exceptionally low in sugar and have the lowest levels of carbs in our round-up, so they are suitable for diabetics or anybody who fancies a sweet-ish treat without the blood sugar spike. The pretty pink berries also boast the highest fibre content of any berry.
A mere handful of raspberries delivers almost 50% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C and manganese, a potent hit of anthocyanin antioxidants, and decent amounts of vitamin K,copper and magnesium.
Delicious raspberry recipes
In recent years, the blueberry has overtaken the raspberry to become the UK's second most popular berry. Particularly rich in anthocyanins, blueberries are full of other health-promoting nutrients, mainly vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, wound healing and healthy bones.
Blueberries also contain manganese, vitamin C and copper, plus research indicates that regular consumption of these berries may slow down the cognitive decline associated with ageing. “Blueberries are a fantastic choice as one of your five portions of fruit and veg a day,” says dietitian Alison Hornby.
Healthy blueberry ripple frozen yogurt
Bramble bushes grow wild up and down the country, even in urban areas, and freebie blackberries abound at this time of year. If you know where to find them, you'll be doing your health and wellbeing a massive favour.
Blackberries are brimming with protective anthocyanins and contain other powerful antioxidants including lutein and beta-carotene. They also provide plenty of vitamin C per serving and make for a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E and minerals such as potassium and copper.
Blackberry and bramley apple pancakes
This hip Brazilian berry is hard to get hold of in the UK, but if you can source the frozen pulp and stretch to the hefty price-tag, give it a go. While there's a lot of hype surrounding the health benefits of acai – it doesn't burn fat for instance – Brazil's favourite berry does lives up to its ultra-virtuous reputation.
The acai berry is an exceptional source of anthocyanins and packs an impressive 33 different antioxidants, more than double the amount contained in blueberries. Loaded with vitamin C and fibre, acai is a good source of other health-enhancing nutrients too, including vitamin A, calcium and zinc.
Superfoods that cost next to nothing
Like cranberries, redcurrants tend to be eaten around Christmas and ignored by many people during the rest of the year. High in fibre, redcurrants are packed with vitamin C and contain potassium – a mineral many people lack in their diets – as well as magnesium, iron and vitamin B6.
If you're not a fan of their tart flavour and don't want to cover your redcurrants in sugar to make them palatable, try them in a fruit salad with sweeter fruits such as banana, strawberries or mangoes.
How to make redcurrant cheesecake
Dried goji berries, which are available in many UK supermarkets, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and have recently garnered superfood status in Western countries – for very good reason.
Goji berries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They also contain impressive levels of beta-carotene, iron, vitamin B2, selenium and a myriad of disease-fighting antioxidants.
Although they are fairly low in anthocyanin antioxidants compared to other berries, gooseberries have other health benefits that more than make up for this shortcoming. For starters, these tart berries are rich in vitamin C.
Gooseberries provide a generous quantity of fibre per serving, and contain essential minerals such as potassium. They also pack more vitamin A than most berries, an essential micronutrient for healthy vision, brain function and immune response.
Gooseberry custard tart
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