3 amazing, rare berries with superpowers

At the time of writing this letter to you, the sun is out.

There is NO rain – I repeat – NO RAIN!

I woke up with light streaming through the blinds, feeling very happy.

As soon as I’d drunk my coffee, I got out in the garden, thinking about spring and what fruits I am going to try and grow this year.

Not just for the taste and sheer joy of nurturing life, but also to create our own little outdoor superfood generator.

For instance, I’m going to try growing strawberries this year in a spot I’ve created which I think will be perfect – I’ve already got the seeds planted indoors.

Strawberries are fantastic because they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, fibre, folate, phytosterols, and polyphenols.

There’s been some new research into strawberries, published in the journal Nutrients, which excited me, too.

The study involved a group of participants split into two groups. One ate a powder made from whole strawberries, while the other was given a control powder that mimicked the taste without the nutritional benefits.

After three months, the people who took the strawberry powder experienced fewer memory lapses and reported a decrease in depressive symptoms.

Professor Robert Krikorian, of the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Centre, Ohio, said:

“Our findings can likely be attributed to the anti-inflammatory actions of the anthocyanins found in strawberries. We wanted to work with a middle-aged, overweight population as dementia is a condition that is believed to develop over a period of decades. Furthermore, inflammation is likely a contributing factor related to metabolic disorders such as obesity, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.”

Admittedly this was a small trial, but the hope is that these early findings might contribute to natural strategies for dementia prevention.

Anyway, back to the garden…

Strawberries are a good option, because they are versatile and can be grown in beds, containers, or even hanging baskets, so they could be one to try, even if you only have a small space or a balcony.

They’re packed full of antioxidants, which help fight off harmful free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to ageing and diseases like cancer.

Other antioxidant berries can be grown in UK gardens, too:

  • Blueberries: Often crowned the king of antioxidant foods, blueberries are easy to grow in pots or in the garden. They thrive in acidic soil and can cope with our climate, especially in sunnier spots.
  • Blackcurrants: These are powerhouse berries when it comes to antioxidants, particularly vitamin C. They’re more tolerant of cold climates and can be grown quite easily in most gardens.
  • Raspberries: Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, raspberries can be grown in rows in your garden. They need some support as they grow but are quite hardy.

The ideal planting times may vary slightly by variety and whether you are starting from seeds, bareroot plants, or potted plants. But this time of year (March to April) can be a great time for many varieties of berry.

Choose a sheltered area away from cold winds. And bear in mind that berries prefer acidic, well-draining but moisture-retentive soil.

For an extra antioxidant boost and some interesting new flavours, you could also find seedlings for these lesser-known berries….

3 rarer berries with superpowers

  • Aronia berries, often championed as a super-antioxidant fruit. They are small, dark berries that are high in their levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids, which combat inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • The ‘Blue Sapphire’ dwarf blueberry is a compact variety that is perfect for container gardening, making it an ideal choice for those with limited space. The berries are known for their sweet flavour and high antioxidant content, including vitamins C and K, manganese, and dietary fibre.
  • Or there’s the Polarberry, a yellow version of the traditional blackberry, offering a slightly tart flavour. Like its darker cousins, the golden yellow blackberry is also rich in vitamins and antioxidants.

If you don’t have a garden, suffer from mobility issues, or simply HATE gardening…. but still want to enjoy fresh, seasonal, and organic fruits…. then there are several good options to explore.

Where to find the healthiest, highest antioxidant fruits

The key is to look for local, organic produce to ensure you’re getting the freshest and most nutrient-packed fruits available.

Here’s a rundown of where to look:

  • Farmers’ markets – these allow you to buy directly from the growers, ensuring the produce is fresh and seasonal. Plus, you can often find varieties that aren’t available in supermarkets.
  • Local farm shops – if you live near the countryside, farm shops can be a treasure trove of fresh, locally grown fruits, often organic. These shops are directly run by farmers and can provide a variety of seasonal produce.
  • Organic box schemes – many companies offer delivery of organic fruit and vegetable boxes right to your door. These boxes often include a selection of seasonal produce sourced from local organic farms. Examples include Abel & Cole and Riverford.
  • Independent health food stores – while their selection might be smaller than big supermarkets, they often source more carefully and support local farmers.
  • Specialty organic and ethical supermarkets – some chains in the UK focus on or have a good selection of organic products, like Whole Foods Market and Planet Organic.

As always my advice is to eat with the seasons as much as you can – but don’t beat yourself up about it if you can’t afford the organic stuff, because ANY fruit is better than none!