An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it’s berries that lure us in with the promise of major health benefits—not to mention their beauty and irresistible flavors. The skin of berries often contains concentrated antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins, which give berries an array of deep, beautiful jewel tones and a range of benefits for our skin as well. Anthocyanins are specifically known to boost skin elasticity and protect our DNA from damage. Berries are also known for their concentration of antioxidant vitamin C and their excellent fiber content, which helps with weight loss, detoxification and fullness.
This week, we wanted to look beyond the berries we eat often, like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, to the more exotic, forgotten varieties of berries that we have access to that can help nourish skin from the inside out. Enjoy this Nutritional Aesthetics®-inspired view beyond your usual fruit selection…
Here are four of our favorite lesser-known berries for healthy skin:
Though the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) resembles the blueberry (Vaccinium Cyanococcus) and they are related, they are actually different fruits. Bilberries are known for their high levels of anthocyanins, and other bioflavonoid antioxidants such as resveratrol and quercetin, which nourish and protect skin at the cellular level. Bilberries are also known to support healthy circulation and for their anti-inflammatory benefits, both when eaten and when applied topically in extract form. Bilberry has been associated with skin brightening and conditioning effects, when applied topically. Enjoy bilberries however you normally enjoy berries, in salads, fruit bowls, in cereal or Greek yogurt. You can take advantage of the topical skin benefits of bilberry by choosing serums, lotions, and creams containing bilberry extract.
Yumberries (Myrica rubra) have more going for them than just an adorable name! These delicate little gems (also known as the yang mei fruit or the Chinese strawberry) look a bit like the offspring of the bing cherry and the raspberry, but taste a bit more like pomegranate or cranberry. The texture of fresh yumberries is unique, slightly stringy like an orange, and includes a pit in the center. But here in North America, you’re much more likely find yumberries in juice or powdered form. It is worth the effort to track some down to swirl into your morning smoothie, as yumberries are antioxidant powerhouses. The yumberry’s antioxidant lineup includes high concentrations of flavonoids such as myricetin, which make it a particularly effective weapon to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two known beauty busters.
The resveratrol-rich mulberry is an excellent source of free radical-fighting antioxidants for the skin and body as a whole. Resveratrol in mulberries, like bilberries, helps protect skin at the cellular level. Fresh mulberries, which vary in color from black to red to white, have a mildly sweet flavor and, while they do grow wild in North America, can be hard to find. Recently, dried mulberries have become more widely available, marketed for their health benefits, including a high content of vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, and calcium. Antioxidant-packed mulberries also contain about 3g of protein per ounce, which is rare for a fruit, adding to their well-rounded benefits.
The goji berry, which we’ve come to know in North America as an exotic ‘superfood,’ has been a staple berry in Asia for a thousand years or more. Today we most often find subtly sweet goji berries (also called wolfberries) in dried form, and even then they are remarkably nutrition-packed. While gojis, like many other berries, are high in vitamin C, they’re actually much higher in beta carotene, the vitamin that contributes to smooth, healthy, protected skin and a natural golden glow. Goji berries, like mulberries, are also high in protein, as well as good sources of iron and B vitamins. Goji berries are thought to strengthen the immune system, provide a boost of energy, and nourish sharp eyes, as well as provide some measure of UV damage defense in the skin and slow the effects of aging thanks to their extremely high antioxidant content.
We want to hear from you!
Is there another exotic berry that you recommend for healthy skin?
Which berry—any variety—is your healthy skin staple?