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The 8 Healthiest Berries You Can Eat

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red or purple. They are sweet or sour in taste and often used in preservatives, jams and desserts. Berries tend to have a good nutritional profile. They are typically high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant polyphenols.

As a result, incorporating berries into your diet may help prevent and reduce symptoms of many chronic diseases. Here are 8 of the healthiest berries you can eat.

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are popular berries that serve as a great source of vitamin K. One cup (148 grams) of blueberries provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories:84
  • Fiber:6 grams
  • Vitamin C:24% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K:36% of the RDI
  • Manganese:25% of the RDI

Blueberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins from blueberries may reduce oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of heart disease in both healthy people and those at high risk for the disease. In addition, blueberries may improve other aspects of heart health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of heart attack and enhancing the function of arteries .

Blueberries may lower the risk of diabetes as well. Studies have shown that blueberries can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%. A large observational study has shown that people who eat blueberries also have slower rates of cognitive decline, meaning their brain remains healthy as they age.

However, more research is needed to determine the exact role that blueberries play in brain health.

2. Raspberries

Raspberries are often used in desserts and serve as a very good source of fiber. One cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides (13):

  • Calories:64
  • Fiber:8 grams
  • Vitamin C:54% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K:12% of the RDI
  • Manganese:41% of the RDI

Raspberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can help reduce oxidative stress. One study showed that when consumed as a drink with other berries, raspberries reduced oxidative stress caused by exercise in cyclists.

Raspberries may also increase leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full. The most commonly consumed raspberries are the American red or European red varieties. However, there are many different types of raspberries, and black raspberries have been shown to have a number of health benefits, too.

Black raspberries may be especially good for heart health. Studies have proven that black raspberries can reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Other studies have shown that black raspberries may reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome and reduce the size of polyps in the colon. Polyps are abnormal cell growths that can lead to cancer.

However, these studies were very small. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of black raspberries.

3. Goji Berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to China and used in traditional medicine. They have recently become very popular in the Western world.

One ounce (28 grams) of dried goji berries provides:

  • Calories:23
  • Fiber:2 grams
  • Vitamin C:9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A:50% of the RDI
  • Copper:28% of the RDI

Goji berries also contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health.One study of 150 elderly people found that eating 14 grams of goji berries per day prevented decline in eye health due to aging. This study, along with a second similar study, have shown that eating wolfberries can raise blood zeaxanthin levels.

Like many other berries, goji berries contain antioxidant polyphenols. One study found that eating goji berries for 30 days increased blood antioxidant levels of healthy, older Chinese people. Another study found that drinking goji berry juice for two weeks increased metabolism and reduced waist size in overweight people.

4. Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most commonly consumed berries in the world and also one of the best sources of vitamin C.

One cup (152 grams) of strawberries provides (27):

  • Calories:49
  • Fiber:3 grams
  • Vitamin C:150% of the RDI
  • Manganese:29% of the RDI

Strawberries are good for heart health. In fact, a study of over 93,000 women found that those who ate more than three portions of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of heart attack. Other studies have shown that strawberries may reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol, triglycerides and oxidative stress.

Strawberries can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood, such as IL-1β, IL-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP) . Moreover, strawberries may help control blood sugar levels, which is important for preventing diabetes .

5. Bilberries

Bilberries are very similar to blueberries, and the two are often mistaken. Bilberries are native to Europe, whereas blueberries are native to North America.

3.5 ounces (100 grams) of bilberries provides:

  • Calories:42
  • Fiber:9 grams
  • Vitamin C:24% of the RDI

Many scientific studies have shown that bilberries are effective at reducing inflammation. A couple of studies have shown that eating bilberries or drinking bilberry juice can reduce inflammation in people at risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome. Another study of 110 women found that eating bilberries for around one month reduced inflammation but also reduced waist circumference by 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) and weight by 0.4 pounds (0.2 kgs). Bilberries may also increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol.

6. Acai Berries

Acai berries grow on acai palm trees native to the Brazilian Amazon region. They have become popular health food supplements because of their high antioxidant content.

3.5 ounces (100 grams) of acai berries provides (45):

  • Calories:70
  • Fiber:2 grams
  • Vitamin A:15% of the RDI

Keep in mind that acai berries are often consumed dried or freeze-dried, which can affect the nutritional content. Acai berries are one of the best sources of antioxidant polyphenols and may contain as much as ten times more antioxidants than blueberries

Additionally, acai berry pulp has been shown to reduce blood sugar, insulin and blood cholesterol levels in overweight adults who consumed 200 grams per day for one month. However, this was in a very small study of only ten people.

7. Cranberries

Cranberries are an extremely healthy fruit with a sour taste. They are rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are commonly consumed as juice.1 cup (110 grams) of raw cranberries provides.

  • Calories:51
  • Fiber:1 grams
  • Vitamin C:24% of the RDI
  • Manganese:20% of the RDI

Like many other berries, cranberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols. However, most of these antioxidants are in the skin of the cranberry. Therefore, cranberry juice does not contain as many polyphenols. The best-known health benefit of cranberries is reducing urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Certain chemicals in cranberries prevent the bacteria E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder or urinary tract, therefore preventing infection .A number of studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements canreduce the risk of UTIs.

8. Grapes

Grapes are widely consumed either as whole, raw fruit or as juice, wine, raisins or vinegar. One cup (151 grams) of whole, raw grapes provides (67):

  • Calories:104
  • Fiber:4 grams
  • Vitamin C:27% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K:28% of the RDI

The skin and seeds of grapes are an excellent source of antioxidant polyphenols. A number of studies have shown that grape seed polyphenol extracts can lower both blood pressure and heart rate. However, many of these studies were small. Other studies assert that the effect of polyphenols on blood pressure remains unclear.

Grape juice may even benefit brain health. A small study of 25 women found that drinking 12 ounces (355 ml) of grape juice every day for 12 weeks significantly improved memory and driving performance.

10 Signs and Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness caused by consuming foods or drinks that contain harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites. It’s extremely common, affecting an estimated 9.4 million Americans each year.

While many foods contain potentially harmful organisms, they are usually destroyed during cooking. However, if you don’t practice good hygiene and proper food storage methods, such as washing your hands and keeping raw meat at the bottom of your fridge, even cooked foods can become contaminated and make you sick.

This article lists 10 symptoms of food poisoning and what you should do if you think you have it.

1. Abdominal Pain and Cramps

Abdominal pain is felt around the trunk of the body, or the area below your ribs but above your pelvis. In cases of food poisoning, harmful organisms can produce toxins that irritate the lining of your stomach and intestines. This can result in painful inflammation in your stomach, which may cause pain in your abdomen.

People with food poisoning may also experience cramps, as the abdominal muscles contract to speed up the natural movements of your bowel to get rid of the harmful organisms as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, abdominal pain and cramps are common and can occur for a number of reasons. Because of this, these symptoms alone may not be a sign of food poisoning.

Furthermore, not all cases of food poisoning will result in abdominal pain or cramps.

2. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is characterized by watery, loose stools and defined as three or more of this type of bowel movement in a 24-hour period. It’s a typical symptom of food poisoning. It occurs as inflammation makes your bowel less effective at reabsorbing the water and other fluids it secretes during digestion.

Diarrhea may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a sense of urgency when you need to go to the bathroom, bloating or abdominal cramps .

To check if you’re dehydrated, monitor the color of your urine, which should be light yellow or clear. If your urine is darker than this, it may indicate dehydration.

3. Headaches

Headaches are extremely common.People can experience them for a wide range of reasons, including stress, drinking too much alcohol, dehydration and fatigue. Because food poisoning may cause you to become fatigued and dehydrated, it can also lead to a headache.

While the exact cause isn’t fully understood, it’s been suggested that dehydration can directly affect your brain, causing it to lose fluid and temporarily shrink. You could be especially prone to a headache if you experience vomiting and diarrhea, both of which increase your risk of dehydration.

4. Vomiting

It’s natural for people who have food poisoning to vomit. This happens when your abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract strongly, forcing you to involuntarily bring up the contents of your stomach and pass them out through your mouth.

It’s a protective mechanism that occurs as your body tries to get rid of the dangerous organisms or toxins that it detects as harmful. In fact, food poisoning often results in an initial bout of forceful, projectile vomiting. For some people it subsides, while others continue to vomit intermittently .

If you’re vomiting continuously and can’t keep fluids down, you should seek help from a doctor or pharmacist to avoid becoming dehydrated.

5. Generally Feeling Sick

Those who have food poisoning often experience a loss of appetite and other symptoms common to illness like fatigue.This happens as your immune system responds to fight the infection that has invaded your body. As part of this response, your body releases chemical messengers called cytokines.

Cytokines have many different roles, but an important one is regulating your body’s immune response to infection. They do this by telling your immune cells where to go and how to behave.

In addition to helping your body fight an infection like food poisoning, cytokines send signals to the brain and cause many of the symptoms we generally associate with being ill, including loss of appetite, fatigue and aches and pains. This collection of symptoms can result in what is sometimes called “sickness behavior,” as you withdraw from social interactions, rest and stop eating.

Sickness behavior is a sign that your body is diverting its attention away from other body processes like digestion to prioritize fighting an infection.

6. Fever

You have a fever if your body’s temperature rises higher than its normal range, which is 97.6–99.6°F, or 36–37°C.

Fever-producing substances called pyrogens trigger the rise in temperature. They are released either by your immune system or the infectious bacteria that has entered your body. They cause a fever by sending messages that trick your brain into thinking your body is colder than it is. This results in your body generating more heat and losing less heat, thus raising your temperature.

This increase in temperature helps your body fight infection by killing off or slowing the growth of organisms that are sensitive to heat. It also increases the activity of your white blood cells, which helps you fight the infection.

7. Chills

Chills can occur as your body shivers to raise your temperature. These shivers are the result of your muscles rapidly contracting and relaxing, which generates heat. They often accompany a fever, as pyrogens trick your body into thinking it’s cold and needs to warm up.

A fever can occur with many different illnesses, including food poisoning, making chills one of its common symptoms.

  1. Weakness and Fatigue

Weakness and fatigue are other symptoms of food poisoning. These symptoms occur due to the release of chemical messengers called cytokines. Additionally, eating less due to loss of appetite may cause you to feel tired.

Both weakness and fatigue are symptoms of sickness behavior, which helps your body rest and prioritize getting better. In fact, they can also be symptoms of many other illnesses. So if you feel weak or tired, the best thing to do is listen to your body and rest.

9. Nausea

Nausea is the unpleasant feeling that you are about to vomit, although you may or may not actually do so. While it’s normal to feel queasy in cases of food poisoning, nausea can occur for many other reasons, including migraines, motion sickness and eating too much. 

Nausea related to food poisoning typically comes on between one and eight hours after a meal. It works as a warning signal to let your body know that it has ingested something potentially harmful. It may be exacerbated by a slowing of the movement of your bowel, which occurs when your body tries to confine the toxin in your stomach.

If you feel nauseous, you might want to try some of these natural remedies to help relieve your symptoms.

10. Muscle Aches

Your muscles can ache when you get an infection like food poisoning. This is because your immune system has been activated, causing inflammation. During this process, your body releases histamine, a chemical that helps widen your blood vessels to allow more white blood cells to get through to fight the infection.

Histamine helps increase blood flow to infected areas of your body. Along with other substances involved in the immune response, such as cytokines, histamine can get to other parts of your body and trigger pain receptors.

This can make certain parts of your body more sensitive to pain and result in the dull aches you often associate with being sick.

10 Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells. That’s because iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body. If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively. This leads to a condition called anemia.

Here are 10 signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.

  1. Unusual Tiredness

Feeling very tired is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency, affecting more than half of those who are deficient.

This happens because your body needs iron to make a protein called hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen around the body. When your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, less oxygen reaches your tissues and muscles, depriving them of energy. In addition, your heart has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body, which can make you tired.

2. Paleness

Pale skin and pale coloring of the inside of the lower eyelids are other common signs of iron deficiency.

The hemoglobin in red blood cells gives blood its red color, so low levels during iron deficiency make the blood less red. That’s why skin can lose its healthy, rosy color in people with iron deficiency. This paleness in people with iron deficiency can appear all over the body, or it can be limited to one area, such as the face, gums, inside of the lips or lower eyelids and even the nails. 

3. Shortness of Breath

Hemoglobin enables your red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. When hemoglobin is low in your body during iron deficiency, oxygen levels will also be low. This means your muscles won’t get enough oxygen to do normal activities, such as walking.

As a result, your breathing rate will increase as your body tries to get more oxygen.This is why shortness of breath is a common symptom.

If you find yourself out of breath doing normal, daily tasks that you used to find easy, such as walking, climbing stairs or working out, iron deficiency could be to blame.

  1. Headaches and Dizziness

Iron deficiency may cause headaches.This symptom seems to be less common than others and is often coupled with lightheadedness or dizziness (4).

In iron deficiency, low levels of hemoglobin in red blood cells mean that not enough oxygen can reach the brain. As a result, blood vessels in the brain can swell, causing pressure and headaches. Although there are many causes of headaches, frequent, recurrent headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency.

  1. Heart Palpitations

Noticeable heartbeats, also known as heart palpitations, can be another symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen around the body. In iron deficiency, low levels of hemoglobin mean the heart has to work extra hard to carry oxygen. This can lead to irregular heartbeats, or the feeling that your heart is beating abnormally fast.

In extreme cases, it can lead to an enlarged heart, heart murmur or heart failure. However, these symptoms tend to be a lot less common. You would have to suffer from iron deficiency for a long time to experience them.

6. Dry and Damaged Hair and Skin

Dry and damaged skin and hair can be signs of iron deficiency. This is because when your body is iron deficient, it directs its limited oxygen to more important functions, such as organs and other bodily tissues. When skin and hair are deprived of oxygen, it can become dry and weak.

More severe cases of iron deficiency have been linked to hair loss. It is completely normal for some hair to fall out during everyday washing and brushing, but if you are losing clumps or much more than normal, it may be due to iron deficiency.

7. Swelling and Soreness of the Tongue and Mouth

Sometimes just looking inside or around your mouth can give you an indication of whether you are suffering from iron-deficiency anemia. Signs include when your tongue becomes swollen, inflamed, pale or strangely smooth .

Low hemoglobin in iron deficiency can cause the tongue to become pale, while lower levels of myoglobin can cause it to become sore, smooth and swollen. Myoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that supports your muscles, such as the muscle that makes up the tongue. Iron deficiency can also cause dry mouth, sore red cracks at the corners of the mouth or mouth ulcers.

  1. Restless Legs

Iron deficiency has been linked to restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome is a strong urge to move your legs at rest. It can also cause unpleasant and strange crawling or itchy sensations in the feet and legs. It is usually worse at night, meaning that sufferers may struggle to get much sleep. The causes of restless leg syndrome are not fully understood.

However, up to 25% of people with restless leg syndrome are thought to have iron-deficiency anemia, and the lower the iron levels, the worse the symptoms.

9. Brittle or Spoon-Shaped Fingernails

A much less common symptom of iron deficiency is brittle or spoon-shaped fingernails, a condition called koilonychia. This often starts with brittle nails that chip and crack easily. In later stages of iron deficiency, spoon-shaped nails can occur where the middle of the nail dips and the edges are raised to give a rounded appearance like a spoon.

However, this is a rare side effect and usually only seen in severe cases of iron-deficiency anemia.

10. Other Potential Signs

There are several other signs that your iron could be low. These tend to be less common and can be linked to many conditions other than iron deficiency.

Other signs of iron-deficiency anemia include:

  • Strange cravings:A hankering for strange foods or non-food items is called “pica.” It usually involves cravings to eat ice, clay, dirt, chalk or paper and could be a sign of iron deficiency. It can also occur during pregnancy.
  • Feeling anxious:The lack of oxygen available to body tissues in iron deficiency may cause feelings of anxiety. However, this tends to improve or resolve as iron levels are corrected.
  • Cold hands and feet:Iron deficiency means less oxygen is being delivered to the hands and feet. Some people may feel the cold more easily in general or have cold hands and feet.
  • More frequent infections:Because iron is needed for a healthy immune system, lack of it may cause you to catch more illnesses than usual.

9 Natural Sleep Aids That Are Backed by Science

Getting a good amount of sleep is incredibly important for your health. Sleep helps your body and brain function properly. A good night’s sleep can improve your learning, memory, decision-making and even your creativity. What’s more, getting sufficient sleep has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.

Despite all these benefits, sleep quality and quantity are at an all-time low, and people increasingly suffer from poor sleep. Keep in mind that good sleep often starts with good sleep practices and habits. However, for some, that’s not enough. If you require a little extra help to get a good night’s sleep, consider trying the following nine sleep-promoting supplements.

  1. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone your body produces naturally, which signals your brain that it’s time to sleep. This hormone’s cycle of production and release is influenced by time of day — melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening and fall in the morning. For this reason, melatonin supplements have become a popular sleeping aid, particularly in instances where the melatonin cycle is disrupted, such as jet lag.

What’s more, several studies report that melatonin improves daytime sleep quality and duration. This is particularly beneficial for individuals whose schedules require them to sleep during the daytime, such as shift workers. Moreover, melatonin may improve overall sleep quality in individuals suffering from sleep disorders. Specifically, melatonin appears to reduce the time people need to fall asleep and increase the total amount of sleep time.

Melatonin supplements appear to be safe when used for short periods of time, but as of yet, not much is known about long-term safety.

2. Valerian Root

Valerian is an herb native to Asia and Europe. Its root is commonly used as a natural treatment for symptoms of anxiety, depression and menopause. It is also one of the most commonly used sleep-promoting herbal supplements in the US and Europe. 

However, study results remain inconsistent. For instance, two recent reviews reported that 300–900 mg of valerian taken right before bedtime may improve self-rated sleep quality.

Nevertheless, all the observed improvements in these studies were subjective. They relied on participants’ perception of sleep quality rather than on objective measurements taken during sleep, such as brain waves or heart rate. Regardless, short-term intake of valerian root appears to be safe for adults, with minor, infrequent side effects such as dizziness. So despite the lack of objective measurements behind valerian, adults may consider testing it out for themselves.

However, safety remains uncertain for use long-term, and in special populations such as pregnant or lactating women.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of processes in the human body, and is important for brain function and heart health. In addition, magnesium may help quiet the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.

Studies show that magnesium’s relaxing effect may be partly due to its ability to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that guides your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Magnesium also appears to increase brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain messenger with calming effects .

On the other hand, increasing your magnesium intake by taking supplements may help you optimize the quality and quantity of your sleep.

4. Lavender

Lavender is a plant that can be found on almost all continents. It produces purple flowers that, when dried, have a variety of household uses. Moreover, lavender’s soothing fragrance is believed to enhance sleep.

In fact, several studies show that simply smelling lavender oil for 30 minutes before sleep may be enough to improve the quality of sleep. This effect appears particularly strong in those suffering from mild insomnia, especially females and young individuals.

Though lavender aromatherapy is considered safe, the intake of lavender supplements has been linked to nausea and stomach pain in some cases.It’s also worth noting that only a limited amount of studies could be found on the effects of lavender supplements on sleep. Thus, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.

5. Passion Flower

Passion flower, also known as Passiflora incarnata or maypop, is a popular herbal remedy for insomnia. The species of passion flower linked to sleep improvements are native to North America. They are also currently cultivated in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Passion flower’s sleep-promoting effects have been demonstrated in animal studies. However, its effects in humans appear to depend on the form consumed. One study in humans compared the effects of a passion flower tea to those of a placebo tea made from parsley leaves. Participants drank each tea about one hour before bed for a period of one week, taking a one-week break between the two teas. Each tea bag was allowed to steep for 10 minutes, and researchers took objective measurements of sleep quality. At the end of the three-week study, the objective measurements indicated the participants had not experienced improvements in sleep. However, when they were asked to rate their sleep quality subjectively, they rated it around 5% higher following the passion flower tea week compared to the parsley tea week.

6. Glycine

Glycine is an amino acid that plays an important role in the nervous system. Recent studies show it may also help improve sleep. Exactly how this works is unknown, but glycine is thought to act in part by lowering body temperature at bedtime, signaling that it’s time to sleep.

In one study, participants suffering from poor sleep consumed 3 grams of glycine or a placebo immediately before bedtime. Those in the glycine group reported feeling less fatigued the next morning. They also said their liveliness, peppiness and clear-headedness were higher the next morning.

Another study investigated the effects of glycine in participants suffering from poor sleep. Researchers took measurements of their brain waves, heart rate and breathing while they slept. Participants who took 3 grams of glycine before bedtime showed improved objective measures of sleep quality compared to the placebo. Glycine supplements also helped participants fall asleep faster.

You can buy glycine in pill form, or as a powder that can be diluted in water. According to research, taking fewer than 31 grams per day appears to be safe, but more studies are needed. You can also consume glycine by eating foods rich in the nutrient, including bone broth, meat, eggs, poultry, fish, beans, spinach, kale, cabbage and fruits like bananas and kiwis.

7–9. Other Supplements

There are many additional sleep-promoting supplements on the market. However, not all are supported by strong scientific research. The list below describes a few additional supplements that may be beneficial to sleep, but require more scientific investigation.

  1. Tryptophan:One study reports that doses as low as 1 gram per day of this essential amino acid may help improve sleep quality. This dosage may also help you fall asleep faster.
  2. Ginkgo biloba:Consuming 250 mg of this natural herb 30–60 minutes before bed may help reduce stress, enhance relaxation and promote sleep.
  3. L-Theanine:Consuming a daily supplement containing 200–400 mg of this amino acid may help improve sleep and relaxation.

Kava is another plant that has been linked to sleep-promoting effects in some studies. It originates from the South Pacific islands and its root is traditionally prepared as a tea, although it can also be consumed in supplement form.

However, kava use has also been linked to severe liver damage. For this reason, it’s best to avoid this supplement.

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