Juicy, sweet, and colorful, berries are extremely delicious and nutritious fruit that signals the start of the summer season. Depending on a variety, berries can be sweet or sour and are best eaten fresh, but can also be used in desserts, jams, syrups, or juices.
The best thing about berries is that they are packed with beneficial nutrients that can improve your overall health and even prevent certain chronic diseases. Full of flavor, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, berries are very healthy and should be included in your diet.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the health benefits and nutritional profile of the most popular types of berries. Keep on reading to learn about the healthiest berries you can eat.
How Many Types of Berries Are There?
There are more than 400 different species of berries that come in many different colors ranging from yellow, red, purple, white, and blue. Depending on the variety and the color, berries have different flavors, some are sweet and juicy, and some varieties can be tart and bitter.
People usually think of berries as small, juicy, edible fruit without a pit. But according to the botanical definition, a berry is a fleshy fruit with seeds, produced from a single flower containing one ovary (source).
This means that eggplants, cucumbers, grapes, tomatoes, and bananas are all berries. However, strawberries and raspberries aren’t “true” berries since they are produced from a single flower with more than one ovary.
Different Types of Berries
Listed below are some of the most popular types of berries which can be found at a farmers’ market or your local grocery store. Since berries are extremely healthy, try to include them in your diet while they are in season.
Physalis, also known as Cape gooseberry or goldenberry, belongs to the nightshade family and was originally cultivated in Peru. Round and smooth, Cape gooseberry has a bright yellow or orange color and a sweet taste when ripe.
Cape gooseberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain moderate levels of niacin, thiamin, and vitamin C. Due to their high antioxidant content, these yellow berries have many health benefits and can boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
While they may look like blackberries, black raspberries are closely related to red raspberries. Black raspberries are high in anthocyanins and test studies are trying to determine if these berries can be beneficial for cancer prevention.
Black raspberries can improve vision and cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of hypertension, and have anti-inflammatory properties. These berries are commonly dried, frozen, made into juices, and sold fresh in season.
White raspberry is a rare raspberry variety that isn’t completely white but can be so pale to appear almost white. White raspberries are slightly smaller than regular red raspberries but have the same soft texture and sweet flavor.
Full of essential nutrients, these white berries are low in sugar, contain anti-aging antioxidants, and can improve the immune system.
Salmonberry is a type of edible berry that looks a lot like a large yellow or orange-red blackberry. Like all other berries, salmonberries are rich in fiber and vitamins, and low in calories and fat.
Depending on their ripeness, salmonberries can be eaten fresh or used to make jam, jelly, wine, or candy.
Golden raspberries are sometimes called yellow raspberries since they have yellow-pink skin. They are usually sweeter than red raspberries and are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins B and C.
Golden raspberries also contain ellagic acid, a compound, known to prevent cancer, and their high antioxidant content is great for the immune system.
Red raspberry is harvested only during summer and fall months and is the most common type of raspberries. These red berries are chock full of valuable nutrients, low in fat, and have many health benefits.
Red raspberries are a great source of vitamin C, which can boost your immune system and prevent chronic diseases. They also contain vitamins K, E, and B, and essential minerals such as manganese, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Eating red raspberries can lower the risk of developing cancer, type two diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Often labeled a superfood, blueberries are favored by many due to their sweet taste and nutritional properties. Juicy and delicious, blueberries are low in calories and fat, but chock full of essential vitamins and antioxidants.
Blueberries contain anthocyanins and various phytochemicals that promote good eye health and may even reduce the development of chronic conditions such as cancer. Naturally rich in vitamins C, K, and manganese, blueberries help lower cholesterol and can improve cardiovascular health.
Lingonberry, also known as foxberry or cowberry, is a small red berry that grows on bushes and is closely related to blueberry and cranberry. Lingonberries are quite tart so they are usually used for jams, compotes, juices, or smoothies.
The lingonberry is low in calories and virtually fat-free, which makes it a good choice if you are on a diet. These edible berries are a good source of vitamins B5 and C, dietary fiber, manganese, and can prevent cardiovascular disease and improve brain function.
Elderberry is a small dark berry that is commonly used for medicinal purposes. However, the leaves, bark, and raw berries can be poisonous and can cause stomach problems.
Although they shouldn’t be eaten raw, elderberries are rich in vitamins C, A, and minerals that can improve your overall health. Like all other purple berries, the elderberry also contains anthocyanins that can improve your immune system and cardiovascular health.
Elderberry is often used in syrups, teas, and supplements that can help treat flu symptoms and other respiratory infections.
Red Currants and Black Currants
Red and black currants are small berries that grow in clusters on stems and have the best taste when allowed to fully ripen on the plant. Red currants have a brilliant ruby red color while black currants have deep dark purple color.
When ripe, red currants have a slightly tarter flavor than black currants, but both varieties have a similar level of sweetness. The acidic taste of red and black currants packs some kick and will leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Both red and black currants are excellent sources of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and are nearly fat-free. Eating currants may provide certain health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels and improved kidney function.
Fresh strawberries are one of the most popular summer fruits due to their signature flavor, juicy texture, and bright red color. Strawberries are aggregate fruit that is created from a single flower that has more ovaries that are joined together as the fruit grows.
Besides being delicious, strawberries are also extremely healthy and have very high levels of vitamin C which can boost your immune system. They also contain decent amounts of manganese, potassium, folate, and antioxidants.
The best thing about strawberries is that they can be consumed in many different ways. You can eat whole fresh strawberries, put them in a smoothie, or prepare a strawberry jam or juice.
The cranberry is a popular type of deep red small berry that is widely consumed for its health benefits. Naturally rich in vitamins C, E, and K, cranberries are also a good source of dietary fiber and contain antioxidants.
Since fresh cranberries naturally have a very sour and bitter taste they are usually dried or processed and used for juices and sauces. These red berries are commonly used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections since they have a mild antibacterial effect.
The olallieberry is a hybrid berry created in the United States and marketed under the name “Ollaile” blackberry. Olallieberries have dark purple color, glossy sheen, and look like an elongated blackberry.
This dark berry balances a sweet and tart flavor and has a juicy consistency. Nutrition vise, the olallieberry is rich in vitamins A and C, and also contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and fiber.
A hybrid cross, pineberry looks like a white strawberry, has red seeds and tastes like a pineapple. Although smaller than red strawberries, pineberries have similar nutritional makeup and are a good source of fiber.
Pineberries are still fairly rare and mostly produced in Europe and marketed to restaurants and bakeries.
Huckleberries are small and tasty edible berries that are often confused with blueberries since they look similar. There are several species of huckleberries and they range in color from bright red to dark purple and blue.
Huckleberries are wild berries that can be tart or sweet, depending on the variety, and have a taste similar to blueberries. This dark berry is an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, and it also has fewer calories and less sugar than blueberry.
Native to Scandinavian countries and not widely cultivated, the cloudberry has a golden-yellow color and is similar to the blackberry. Fresh cloudberries have a uniquely tart taste but develop a sweeter flavor and creamier texture when over-ripe.
Although not widely available in many countries, cloudberries are a good source of vitamins C, A, and B3, and they also contain iron and calcium. Unlike other berries, cloudberries contain plant protein but are low in calories and fat.
Rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins, cloudberries can boost your immune system and prevent the development of chronic conditions.
Full of essential vitamins and minerals, blackberries are highly popular, easily available, and extremely healthy. Unripe blackberries are sour, but when ripe, these berries are soft, juicy, and have a sweet flavor.
Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and also contain many phytochemicals including flavonoids, polyphenols, and fiber. Like all other purple and dark berries, blackberries contain anthocyanins that have a positive impact on cardiovascular health and can prevent chronic diseases.
Gooseberries are small berries that grow in clusters on bushes and are typically green. Still, depending on a variety, gooseberries can also be red, yellow, purple, or white.
Gooseberry is distinctively sour and probably one of the tangiest berries you can eat. However, while gooseberries will leave a sharp taste in your mouth, they aren’t unsavory.
Like all other berries, gooseberry is low in fat and calories but contains higher levels of dietary fiber. Furthermore, this sour-tasting fruit contains higher levels of vitamin C and trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
All gooseberry varieties are also a good source of antioxidants, but darker gooseberries contain higher levels of anthocyanins. Besides eaten fresh, gooseberries are also used as an ingredient in desserts or preserved as dried berries or in the form of jams.
Chokeberries, or Aronia berries, are small, dark fruits similar to blueberries that grow on shrubs. Due to high tannin levels, fresh chokeberries are bitter and have a rather astringent flavor.
Since chokeberries have a strong mouth-drying effect, most people don’t eat them fresh, but they are used to make jams, juices, syrups, teas, and wine. However, Aronia berries are also available frozen, dried, or in powder form.
Although they taste bitter, chokeberries are very beneficial for your health and high in vitamin C, fiber, and manganese. Low in calories and sugar, Aronia berries are a good source of folate, iron, and antioxidants that help reduce blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol.
Açai berries are small, round, dark-purple fruits that grow on branching clusters on the açai palm tree. While fresh açai berries are difficult to come by, this fruit is often sold frozen in a pulp, as a juice, or in powder form.
Studies have shown that açai berries contain antioxidants that promote cognitive functions and may lower the risk of age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (source). As a dark-colored berry, açai fruit contains the antioxidant anthocyanin that lowers inflammation and cholesterol levels and supports heart health.
The boysenberry is a hybrid fruit created by crossing dewberry, loganberry, raspberry, and blackberry. Boysenberries are intensely flavorful and juicy, and look a lot like blackberries but have dark red or maroon color.
While high in fiber, boysenberries don’t have as many vitamins as blackberries but are a valuable source of vitamin K, manganese, iron, and calcium. Due to their nutritional profile, boysenberries may prevent fat absorption and help lower blood pressure.
The goji berry, also known as wolfberry, is a small, bright orange-red berry that grows on a shrub found in China. Often labeled a superfood, goji berries are used to treat many health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, and fever.
Goji berries pack a powerful nutritional punch and are relatively high in protein and fiber, and essentially fat-free. Full of beneficial antioxidants, such as carotenoids, lycopene, lutein, and polysaccharides, goji berries can help slow down the aging process and improve your immune system.
Naturally high in vitamin C, these colorful berries are also a good source of vitamin A, copper, selenium, iron, thiamine, and zinc. Generally sold dried, goji berries can be eaten raw or cooked and are used in teas, desserts, juices, and wines.
Mulberry is a berry fruit that grows on a mulberry tree and looks a lot like an elongated raspberry or blueberry. There are three main species of mulberry and depending on a variety these berries can be white, red, or black.
Ripe mulberries are juicy and sweet and can be eaten fresh or used to make desserts, teas, juices, and wine. Mulberries are a good source of vitamin C and iron, but also contain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Dark mulberries also contain anthocyanins that have antioxidant properties and can help lower blood pressure, inhibit tumor formation, and prevent diabetes.
What Are the Sweetest Berries?
Small and round, huckleberries have a notably sweet taste and are probably one of the sweetest berries you are going to find. Keep in mind, the taste of huckleberries depends on their color and not all varieties taste sweet.
Purple, blue, and dark huckleberries taste sweeter, while red huckleberries have a somewhat tarter flavor. Huckleberries are a lot like blueberries and they even have a similar mildly sweet taste.
The most notable difference between these two berries is that huckleberries have a larger seed which can taste bitter. Therefore, if you decide to try fresh huckleberries, remember to avoid the seeds, otherwise, you’ll end up with a bitter taste in your mouth.
Nutrient-dense, flavorful, and healthy, berries are a seasonal fruit that can be eaten raw during summer or used in jams and desserts. Although low in calories and fat, berries are nutritious and chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Certain types of berries, such as goji berries and blueberries are labeled as superfoods that can boost your immune system and prevent chronic diseases. There are so many different types of berries, some are sweet, some are sour, but all of them are extremely healthy and tasty.