6 min read

Berries: The tiny summer fruits that pack a powerful punch

A glass bowl full of yogurt and topped with mixed fresh berries
Freelance journalist
Carina is a freelance journalist. She writes about food and for our "healthy lifestyle" column.

When the temperature rises and you starting soaking in the sun, your appetite can start to drop off. This seasonal shift is a sign to switch to eating light meals and snacks! Berries make for a perfect component of a light and balanced diet (not just) in August – as a snack, a topping for ice cream or a granola bowl – or an ingredient in a number of delicious recipes. All these tasty options mean it’s time to take a closer look at these delicious little powerhouses. 

What are Berries?

New superfoods for your diet come up so much today that the classics from yesterday sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But berries are just as good for your health as many other trendy foods. They may be small, but they have plenty of room for important nutrients. Few carbs, fiber, and hardly any fat also make them a light food that’s easy to eat in the summer. And let’s admit it: These mini bursts of flavor also look fantastic. Their flashy, deep colors make them the stars of any plate. And as we all know, presentation is key.

But what is the botanical definition of berries? In a nutshell, these delicacies are soft fruits without pits with a juicy pericarp that usually encloses lots of hard-shelled seeds. Many berries have a roundish shape and deep hues.

Fun Fact: botanically, cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplants, as well as bananas and citrus fruits, actually all belong to the berry family. But from the culinary perspective, they’re usually seen as part of other groups – the tomato, for example, is usually considered a vegetable.

©Westend61

Are Raspberries and Strawberries Types of Berries?

When we talk about eating berries, we usually mean juicy, small, soft fruits – i.e. blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, and similar. But, strictly speaking, the last two aren’t berries at all. In botany, raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries are aggregate fruits, while the strawberry is an aggregate accessory fruit. However, colloquially we’re used to very loose definitions, so we group them together with real berries like blueberries and cranberries.

Very Berry Nutrients: Vitamin C and More!

You’ve probably already seen the term flavonoids floating around in connection with health and nutrition. Flavonoids are a group of secondary plant compounds that give many fruits and vegetables their color. Flavonoids, which are supposed to boost your physical health with their antioxidant, blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic effects, are divided into subgroups – and the ones found in berries are proanthocyanidins.

And that’s a good thing because oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs, are said to have powerful antioxidant effects, which, in turn, can help protect body cells from free radicals. Antioxidants may have many other health benefits, however, further scientific research is needed to further substantiate their effects.

Citrus fruits have also made a name for themselves as excellent sources of vitamin C bombs. But did you know that berries also contain a large amount of this natural immune booster? Blackcurrants contain three times as much vitamin C as lemons!

Our tip: Berries are unbeatable as snacks, especially when mixed with nuts. This tasty combination guarantees a high density of nutrients like fiber and other healthy compounds like antioxidants. Click here for our Nuts & Berries mix – the perfect snack for when you’re on the go.

A package of foodspring Nuts and Berries sits in front of a decoratively spread handful of the nuts and berries to be found inside of it: cashews, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, dried physalis, and more.
©foodspring
Check out your new favorite snack!

Berry Types: Some of Our Favorites

Açai Berry

Chances are you haven’t even had a taste of a fresh açai berry yet. The açai plant is native to South America, and its tart, bitter berry is more common in its processed forms – for example, as a juice, energy drink, powder, or ingredient in yogurt and chocolate. Its dark color comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant pigment that appears red, purple, and blue. In addition to other vitamins and minerals, this power-packed fruit contains plenty of calcium, which contributes to your health by boosting your metabolism.

Strawberries

Strawberries are one of our favorite healthy summer snacks. With about 150 grams of this delicious, low-calorie fruit, you’ve already covered your daily requirement of vitamin C. On top of that they are rich in folic acid, vitamin B1, zinc, and copper.

Did you know: Scientists in the U.S. have found that strawberries grown organically have higher levels of antioxidant phenols and vitamin C compared to conventional ones – about 20 percent higher, to be exact.

Goji Berry

With their sweet and sour tang, goji berries have been hailed as a superfood for some time and are best known in their dried form. We love topping our mueslis and bowls with this little powerhouse, which is high in fiber (nearly 4 grams per 30 grams), antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and iron, as well as calcium and magnesium. This impressive nutrient profile is why these popular berries are said to have several positive effects – including strengthening your immune system.

Our tip: Want to give your breakfast bowl or other sweet and savory dishes a unique flavor and nutrient kick? Then our 100% organic Goji Berries are just the thing!

a package of goji berries sits next to a berry-and-yogurt parfait
©foodspring
Go-ji get them now!

Blueberries

These blue mini fruits are not only beautiful to look at, but also the perfect healthy snack, with their boost of vitamin C and antioxidant anthocyanins. By the way, blueberries also contain special antioxidant tannins that can help relieve diarrhea, for example, and are even associated with healing mucosal inflammation.

Currants

The currant is, simply put, a hero among toppings. Sure, some people like to snack them plain, but they’re mostly used as an extra ingredient in various breakfast dishes, cakes, pies, ice cream and other desserts. Their sour, nuanced flavor is just the perfect contrast in sweet desserts. Currants are also full of antioxidants and nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and iron.

Delicious Summer Berry Recipes

Summer salad with strawberries

(2 Servings)

A bright and cheerful salad in a jar featuring avocados, strawberries, toasted pine nuts, arugula (rocket), and feta cubes
©Westend61

Ingredients: 100 g lettuce, 1 avocado, 4 radishes, 100g fresh strawberries (or blueberries), ¼ cucumber, 2 tbsp pine nuts, ½ package feta cheese.

  • Separate lettuce leaves, cut and wash them thoroughly
  • Cut avocado in half, remove pit, and cut flesh first into wedges, then into small pieces
  • Wash cucumbers, radishes, and strawberries, then chop them as well
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl – then crumble the feta cheese and sprinkle it on top.
  • Top with pine nuts (roast them first for an extra layer of flavor)
  • For another berry boost, try making a homemade raspberry balsamic dressing. Pair with a rich toast with olive spread, a perfect complement for this light summer dish.

Summer Berry Crumble

©istetiana

(2 Servings)

Ingredients: 300 grams berries of your choice (like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, or a mix) 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon and 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 40 grams ground almonds, 35 grams rolled oats, 1 pinch cinnamon, 1 pinch sea salt.

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
  • Put berries and cornstarch in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  • Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup and the lemon juice, stir again
  • Pour the mixture into a baking dish suitable for the oven.
  • For the crumble: Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the ground almonds and the oat flakes.
  • Add 1.5 maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon and mix everything well until a sticky crumble mixture forms
  • Spread the crumble mixture on the berries in the mold
  • Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes
  • Let the crumble cool down just a bit – it tastes especially perfect when it’s still a bit warm

Blueberry No-Bake Cheesecake

a bright purple blueberry cheesecake garnished with a decorative edge of blueberries, blackberries, and coconut chips
©foodspring

This eye-catcher is sure to please everyone you show it to! We can’t decide what we like best about our blueberry cheesecake: that you don’t need to turn the oven on at all to make it, or that it’s totally vegan! But whatever the reason, check out the recipe over on our recipes page. Right now.

Get the recipe

Chocolate Berry Shake

A chocolate berry shake in a Mason jar topped with fresh and bright berries

©foodspring

This protein-packed chocolate berry shake is a cool summer sip for your muscles and for your mouth, too! We can’t get over how lovely it looks. And anyone who’s eaten a chocolate-dipped strawberry knows that chocolate and berries are a knockout combination.

Get the recipe

From blueberry cheesecake cups to low-calorie ice cream and smoothie bowls – check out more of our health and fitness recipes with berries that are perfect for a warm weather diet and easy to prepare!

Summary

  • Not everything that’s called a berry is technically a berry. Botanically speaking, raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries are not berries, but they still fall into the category of fleshy fruits.
  • Berries are good for your health because they are rich in many essential nutrients, which of course vary somewhat depending on the variety. These include vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other healthy secondary plant compounds.
  • Berries taste great not only fresh and on their own, but also as a topping, dried berries, or made into a wide variety of snacks and meals. Make delicious fresh or cooked dishes full of berries, from salads to desserts, and get the most out of this summer fruit!
Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Spektrum (Stand Mai 2021): Beeren

    https://www.spektrum.de/lexikon/biologie/beere/7752

  • DGE (Stand Mai 2021): Sekundäre Pflanzenstoffe

    https://www.dge.de/presse/pm/sekundaere-pflanzenstoffe-und-ihre-wirkungen-auf-die-gesundheit-farbenfrohe-vielfalt-mit-potenzial/

  • Verbraucherzentrale (Stand Mai 2021): Für immer jung mit Resveratrol oder OPC?

    https://www.verbraucherzentrale.de/wissen/lebensmittel/nahrungsergaenzungsmittel/fuer-immer-jung-mit-resveratrol-oder-opc-13389#:~:text=Resveratrol%20und%20OPC%20(Oligomere%20Proanthocyanidine,k%C3%B6nnen%20und%20zudem%20lebensverl%C3%A4ngernd%20wirken.

  • Chemie Lexikon (Stand Mai 2021): Oligomere Proanthocyanidine

    https://www.chemie.de/lexikon/Oligomere_Proanthocyanidine.html

  • Bundeszentrum für Ernährung (Stand Mai 2021): Trendbeeren und -früchte: Was ist dran an den “Superfrüchten” aus Übersee?

    https://www.bzfe.de/lebensmittel/trendlebensmittel/trendbeeren-und-fruechte/

  • Bundeszentrum für Ernährung (Stand Mai 2021): Erdbeeren: Gesund essen. Die Erdbeeren – ein gesundes Früchtchen

    https://www.bzfe.de/lebensmittel/vom-acker-bis-zum-teller/erdbeeren/erdbeeren-gesund-essen/

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