As some of the most antioxidant-packed gems available in nature, berries are a prime target for both nutrition and pleasure when following a Paleo diet template.
Berries are relatively low in fructose, and make a superb treat when the Sugar Dragon rears its ugly head. They have a long history of use in both sweet and savory dishes, making for a versatile ingredient in any kitchen. Whether tossed on a salad or folded into homemade pemmican, berries offer bright flavor and a nutrient boost. Here are our ten favorites and why we love them.
Blackberries. This wild berry has an intense flavor, matching its deep purple-black hue. High in vitamin C, fiber, potassium and the antioxidants anthocyanin and ellagic acid, blackberries offer serious protection against inflammation.
Blueberries. These sweet summer berries are at their peak when the last flush of pink on their skins has turned to a dark navy. Rich in phytochemicals, blueberries are regularly studied for their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Whenever possible, choose wild varieties for a higher antioxidant count.
Cranberries. Low in sugar and high in vitamin C, the bright crimson color of the cranberry reveals its antioxidant power, offering protection against inflammation and infection. Although not just for Thanksgiving dinner, cranberries reach their peak season in October-November.
Currants. Tiny relatives of the gooseberry, currants grow in clusters like grapes. The tart flavor makes these berries good candidates for drying, and the end result is similar to a raisin but with a more intense flavor, and a hefty dose of vitamin C.
Elderberries. Highly prized for both flavor and medicinal use in folk medicine, elderberries contain high levels of vitamin C, flavonoids and rutin, compounds known to improve immune function. Elderberries grow prolifically in the wild, and are commercially available as syrups or tinctures.
Goji Berries Natives of Tibet and the Himalayan Mountains, these magenta berries grow from summer to fall and are reported to contain 13 percent protein, plus abundant antioxidants, iron, beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Gooseberries. Rarely the star of the show, gooseberries are intensely tart and can be a chore to pick and prepare. The work is worth it though, as these bright green berries are very high in vitamin C, a rich source of fiber, and low in sugar.
Mulberries. The red mulberry tree is native to deciduous, temperate climates, and bears deep crimson fruit similar in size and design to an oblong raspberry. The Asian white mulberry is a more exotic specimen, and is renowned for high antioxidant levels.
Raspberries. These berries are most commonly found as red varieties, but also exist as black, purple and gold species. Raspberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamin C, plus antioxidants like ellegic acid and anthocyanin.
Strawberries. A familiar favorite, strawberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, and are at their most flavorful when harvested locally in the early summer months. Wild strawberries are smaller and have a more intense flavor than domesticated cultivars, and contain significantly higher antioxidant levels.