Vibrant, small and round: berries or fruits of the forest belong to a food group which, in addition to being delicious, has nutritional qualities which are very beneficial to our bodies. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and cherries are just a few of the most well-known.
Botanically, they are quite varied and cover a wide range of families, although the majority of the most well-known belong to the rose family. The fruits grow on bushes or small trees and usually contain a lot of seeds.
Some of them are formed from composite flowers, producing the infructescence which we call a fruit but which is in fact a group of small sized fruits. This is the case of fruits such as strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Spain is at the world’s forefront in the cultivation, research and commercialisation of this horticultural product we call berries. It is also the main purveyor of these fruits, supplying many European countries. Given that most of the fruits are exported to international markets, the Spanish sector actually uses the English term ‘berries’ but they are also known as fruits of the forest and summer fruits.
Where are berries and fruits of the forest grown in Spain?
The cultivation of berries and fruits of the forest is concentrated in the province of Huelva and Andalusia is the Autonomous Region with the greatest surface area and production. The group includes:
- Blueberries: the blueberry season officially starts in the middle of February and runs until May. It can sometimes extend to June and even July.
- Strawberries: this fruit is very popular with consumers and it starts to become available in November and December. The season proper starts in January and runs to the middle of June.
- Blackberries: the blackberry season begins in the middle of April and ends in the summer months, specifically in July.
- Raspberries: this fruit can be eaten all year round.
- Cherries: this fruit arrives with hotter weather and has a short season between May and July.
Berries have been proven to be one of the healthiest foods. They are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Properties and benefits of fruits of the forest:
They are rich in phytochemicals
These are natural substances which, thanks to their antioxidant properties, help to prevent the cell damage caused by aging. Furthermore, they prevent the development of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer and coronary heart disease.
They are great sources of vitamins A, C, E and B
These have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and stimulate the immune system. Furthermore, thanks to their high fibre content, berries are very satiating and help to keep you regular.
They contain anthocyanins
These are red, blue and purple pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, they could potentially replace synthetic colourings in the food industry and, in terms of human nutrition, they could help to protect against chronic illness.
They improve your memory
Studies have proven that eating more berries is a good way to defend against Alzheimer’s and the mental deterioration caused by aging.
They help to control diabetes
Their composition contains fibre which helps to regulate blood sugar levels, especially in people with diabetes.
They help to control your weight
Thanks to their high fibre and water content and their low calorie level, the food group has a satiating effect which can be beneficial to weight control.
They contribute to better sleep
Cherries contain melatonin, a hormone which regulates the sleep cycle and helps you fall asleep.
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