Berries are incredibly tasty and come in a wide array of forms and sizes. They are packed with a plethora of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more. Some of the healthiest berries include blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Recently, exotic berries like goji and acai have also started to gain traction due to their health-promoting properties.
What Exactly Counts as a Berry?
A berry is typically characterized as a small, fleshy, and edible fruit that doesn’t contain a stone or pit. Botanically speaking, fruits like grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, watermelons, pumpkins, and even bananas fall under the category of berries. Surprisingly, fruits we commonly consider berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries aren’t really berries under the “true” botanical definition.
Nevertheless, we’ll stick to the general perception and define berries as “small, juicy, edible fruits that are devoid of a stone or pit”. Therefore, the classification of berries in this piece adheres to the culinary, not the botanical, definition.
Exploring Various Types of Berries (Complete with Images and Names) – Your Guide to Identification
Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the most prevalent types of berries that you should consider incorporating into your diet.
Cranberries are a tart red fruit known for their high vitamin C content, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Their flavor tends to be on the bitter side. These berries thrive in marshy soils in the wild, typically growing close to the ground. Cranberries are utilized in a variety of products including juice, jams, and dried fruits. Given their sour taste, sugar is usually added to cranberry products to balance the flavor.
As a red berry, cranberries boast a high concentration of antioxidants such as flavanones, anthocyanins, and flavanols. Cranberry juice is commonly consumed to ward off urinary tract infections. Furthermore, cranberries show a degree of antibacterial properties, which may prove beneficial for bladder-related issues.
Blueberries, known for their succulent texture and sweet taste, are often the go-to choice among dark-colored berries. Like other dark berries, such as blackberries, blueberries are teeming with vitamins and antioxidants. Research suggests that anthocyanins, the pigments that bestow berries with their distinctive color, can contribute to maintaining excellent eye health.
Blueberries are a low-calorie, low-fat food that is high in fiber and brimming with vitamins C and K. Studies indicate that dark berries like blueberries and blackberries can be beneficial for heart health. Blueberries, in particular, aid in lowering cholesterol, further enhancing their health benefits when included in your diet.
Huckleberries and blueberries share a striking resemblance, often leading to confusion between the two. In different parts of the world, huckleberries are also referred to as bilberries or European blueberries. Unlike blueberries, huckleberries, a wild berry type rarely cultivated, do not contain seeds.
Compared to blueberries, huckleberries contain less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. Similar to other dark berries, huckleberries are rich in fiber and antioxidants, but they also have a higher calorie content. So, if you’re aiming to reduce your carbohydrate intake, swapping blueberries for huckleberries in your diet could be a good option.
Chokeberries, also known as Aronia berries, are dark, almost black fruits that bear a resemblance to blueberries. Due to their high tannin content, chokeberries are among the more bitter-tasting berries, often leaving a dry and bitter sensation in your mouth after consumption. Their astringent taste usually discourages direct consumption, leading people to use them in baked goods or prepare jams, teas, and syrups instead.
While they are a type of black-colored berry, chokeberries can also come in a red variant. Research suggests that chokeberries could be among the top berries beneficial for heart health. The antioxidants in these dark berries aid in combatting inflammation, elevating blood pressure, and reducing cholesterol levels. If you find the taste of chokeberries too bitter, you have the option to purchase chokeberry extracts in powder form.
Elderberry is yet another dark berry that is beneficial for health. Unlike many other nutritious berries, these small black fruits are not meant to be eaten raw. They could potentially be among the healthiest of berries. Elderberries are an excellent source of vital minerals and vitamins C and A. Incorporating these small black berries into your diet can be done by preparing elderberry tea or syrup.
Research suggests that elderberry syrup may be effective in addressing colds and other upper respiratory infections. Like other dark berries, the anthocyanins in elderberries may contribute to maintaining heart health and bolstering your immune system.
Gooseberries are a type of green berry that sprout on small bushes and possess a tart flavor. Despite being one of the sourest berries you can consume, their tartness doesn’t quite reach the intensity of lemons. Gooseberry bushes can also yield berry fruits in red, purple, yellow, and white hues.
Jostaberries, a type of black berry derived from certain gooseberry varieties (botanically a currant), also exist. Like other berries, gooseberries are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. While the darker varieties of gooseberries tend to have higher levels of anthocyanins, other cultivars of gooseberries also serve as a great source of antioxidants.
Lingonberries are another variety of red berries that grow on small shrubs and have a tart flavor. Due to their acidic taste, these tiny red berries are frequently used in the preparation of jams, syrups, compotes, and smoothies, thereby enhancing the nutritional value of many dishes with their high vitamin C and mineral content.
For the best absorption of their health benefits, consuming fresh lingonberries is recommended over powdered supplements. Research suggests that the fiber in lingonberries could help stave off blood sugar spikes. Conversely, lingonberry supplements have been associated with adverse effects.
Boysenberry, a hybrid berry, is a fusion of loganberry, blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry. Visually similar to blackberries, boysenberries are dark red or maroon in color. Although they don’t match blackberries in vitamin content, these red berry fruits hold their own in terms of fiber content.
Boysenberries are packed with a host of vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Research indicates that the consumption of these soft, juicy red berries can aid in lowering blood pressure and minimizing fat absorption in the digestive tract.
Red Currants and Black Currants
Red currants are a bright red fruit that grow in clusters, much like grapes. Similar in size to blueberries, red currants offer a tart, acidic taste with a hint of sweetness. These types of currants have an astringent flavor that might leave your mouth feeling slightly dry, but not as dry or bitter as chokeberries.
The health benefits of red currants are largely attributed to their high antioxidant content. However, studies have shown that black currants possess considerably higher levels of anthocyanins compared to their red counterparts.
Delicious Fruits We Think of as Berries
Let’s explore a few scrumptious small soft fruits that are often labeled as berries in the culinary sphere, despite not being true berries. These fruits, resembling berries, are technically classified as aggregate fruits because they form from a single flower where multiple ovaries fuse together.
Summer berries are some of the most sought-after fruits globally, with fresh strawberries being a top pick. Strawberries, which can grow to be up to a pound each, are among the largest berries available. They are technically aggregate fruits and come in a variety of hues.
Later, we’ll delve into a unique white strawberry variant known as a pineberry. The majority of the health benefits of strawberries, like other red fruits, come from their high vitamin C content. For instance, consuming five medium-sized strawberries can fulfill 60% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
Strawberries are a delightful dessert fruit that can be enjoyed fresh. They are perfect for smoothies, jams, or even blended and drizzled over desserts. Despite not being true berries, strawberries are often counted among superfoods by some. They are known to help reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and promote heart health.
Blackberries, while not true berries, are one of the most delightful fruit options available. What makes these dark purple fruits so exceptional? Like blueberries, blackberries are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. They contain high amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and several phenolic compounds.
When it comes to blackberries, wild varieties are the way to go. Similar to other black and purple berries, blackberries have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. They are, in fact, one of the healthiest berry options available, surpassing even blueberries, cranberries, and red raspberries.
Red, Black, Golden and White Raspberry
Raspberries are often hailed as a superfood with significant health benefits. Red raspberries, a popular summer berry, are high in vitamin C. Among all the berries, raspberries contain the most dietary fiber. Consuming red raspberries has been associated with reduced risk of chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Check out my article on the scientifically proven health benefits of raspberries to learn more about this fruit. Interestingly, other raspberry varieties, such as red raspberries, may offer even greater health benefits.
Black raspberries are a variety of raspberry that have a black color and a resemblance to blackberries. As anticipated, black raspberries are rich in anthocyanins. Research has revealed that consuming black raspberry varieties can aid in reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, and even potentially preventing cancer.
Golden raspberries, which have several health benefits, are an uncommon kind of golden berry. This sort of raspberry is referred to as a yellow raspberry with “super antioxidant” properties by scientists.
A specific kind of white raspberry is a uncommon type. Some yellow raspberry types may be so pale that they look practically white, despite the fact that there isn’t a botanical kind of raspberry that is completely white.
Olallieberry is a dark berry that resembles a plump blackberry or black raspberry and is a hybrid of fruit and berry. Given its similarity to blackberry, it is likely to be rich in anthocyanins. However, there is no mention of its nutritional composition.
Mulberries are fruit-like berries that come in a variety of colors, resembling elongated blackberries or raspberries. These berries can be black, purple, red, or white, and possess a slightly bitter and acidic taste with a hint of sweetness. Mulberries can be consumed fresh or used in cooking, similar to blackberries and raspberries.
During summer, it’s challenging to find fresh mulberries due to their fragility. They are often purchased frozen or grown on a mulberry tree in one’s backyard. The health benefits of berry fruits have been linked to improved heart health, glucose control, and obesity prevention.
Serviceberries are pome fruits that belong to the serviceberry tree and shrub. When they mature, their appearance turns purple and resembles blueberries. These berries have a sweet taste similar to blueberries and are often used in jams and jellies. They are also referred to as juneberries as some of them ripen in June. The serviceberry fruit is depicted in two pictures; one with mature purple fruits on the left, and the other with immature red fruits on the right.
Types of Exotic Berries
Let’s explore a range of uncommon berries, several of which are properly categorized as superberries.
Açai berries are small black-purple berries that resemble grapes and grow on açai palm trees. Although it’s challenging to find these super berries fresh, they are becoming increasingly popular due to their numerous health benefits. The powder form of açai berries is commonly purchased to derive the benefits. Studies suggest that açai berry powder contains high levels of polyphenols and other antioxidants.
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are exotic crimson fruits that are more popular than açai berries. These superfood berries are a type of berry and are considered one of the healthiest. Fresh goji berries are difficult to find and are mostly available as dried red berries. Just one ounce (28 g) of these super berries can meet half of your daily vitamin A needs and 10% of your fiber needs.
Goji berries have a sweet taste with a slight bitterness due to being supplied dried. Some individuals use goji berries in baked goods to reduce sugar and increase nutritional value. Research suggests that goji berries have high levels of antioxidants that may help prolong life, strengthen immunity, and improve blood health.
Physalis (Cape Gooseberry)
The fruit known as Physalis, which belongs to the nightshade family, is an orange berry that goes by various names such as groundcherries, golden berries, and Cape gooseberries. Physalis berries are low in fat and high in fiber, and they also have potent antioxidant properties that provide numerous health benefits. They contain nutrients that promote healthy vision, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system. The sweet flavor of these orange berries is often compared to tropical fruits like mangoes or pineapples, and they can be eaten raw or chopped up in salads for a sweet touch.
Unusual Types of Berries You Can Eat
There are some rare berries that are definitely worth tasting, in addition to normal berries such as blueberries, cranberries, and redcurrants.
Cloudberries are small, orange berries with a tangy taste that are often compared to winter berries. They resemble redcurrants and red raspberries in appearance. Cloudberries are not widely available for purchase in many countries, as they are native to Scandinavia. Despite this, they are highly nutritious and a good source of plant protein, making them unique among berries. Cloudberries contain high levels of antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, citric acid, and anthocyanins, which contribute to their health benefits.
Pineberries are a type of berry that has a unique appearance of a white strawberry with red seeds, and a taste resembling that of a pineapple. Despite their unusual appearance, pineberries are considered healthy for consumption, containing vitamins, minerals, and a similar amount of fiber to regular strawberries. If interested in trying these “albino strawberries”, one can learn how to grow them in containers or a garden.
Salmonberries are a type of bright and eye-catching orange or golden berry fruit that has a striking resemblance to the raspberry fruit. Although their appearance may be unusual, they are packed with nutrients and health benefits. Salmonberries are low in calories and fat but high in fiber and nutrients. They can be added to desserts to create a splash of reddish-orange color, and their sweet and juicy flesh has a delicious flavor.
Sumac trees produce bright red berries that grow in large cone-like clusters, and are well-known for their striking appearance. These berries are technically drupes, which means they have a seed in the center, similar to peaches or apricots. Each berry is about 0.16 inches (4 mm) in diameter and has a fuzzy texture due to fine hairs. Sumac clusters can grow up to a foot (30 cm) long and are a favorite due to their tangy taste and high vitamin C content. Sumac spice, which is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, is made from these berries and is primarily sourced from Syrian sumac (Rhus coriaria). It is used in a variety of spice mixes, such as za’atar.
Hackberry fruit is a small and sweet berry that grows on hackberry trees (Celtis). The globular green fruit matures into a red or dark purple drupe that hangs on short stems. The fruit is ripe in September and remains on the tree throughout winter. These sweet drupes can be eaten raw or made into delicious jelly, and they are a favorite of both humans and birds.