If cherries, blackberries and raspberries are not berries, then which ones are? Blueberries and cranberries are berries. And so are bananas, grapes, papaya, tomatoes and grapes. To make things clearer, blackberries and raspberries are aggregate fruits [fruits made of tiny drupes in a cluster]. Cherry is a drupe [fleshy fruit with a pit or stone seed at the center].
So, what is a berry? Botanically, it is a fruit with a fleshy pericarp having one or more seeds. It has no core. It is completely edible.
The berry has a diameter of 5 to 16 mm bearing a crown at the end. Color changes from pale green to reddish purple then dark blue when ripe. They taste sweet upon maturity with varying acidity. They are available in the market as fresh or processed as IQF or individually quick frozen fruit.
You can enjoy blueberry as puree, dried or preserved fruit, juice, infused berries, jellies, blueberry pies, the famous blueberry cheesecake and muffins, jams, cereals and other snack food. The jam is made from blueberries, fruit pectin and water. Blueberry wine comes from the skin and flesh of the fruit [usually low bush variety] that is fermented and matured.
Blueberries are good antioxidants. They are good sources of phytochemicals. They also provide energy, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 or folate, C, E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
It has various micronutrients of minerals and vitamins mentioned above. It contains low glycemic level that makes it healthy for diabetics. It contains anthocyanins and other pigments that serve as antioxidants and phytochemicals that are being studied to reduce risk of cancer and inflammation. It may also contain resveratrol that is found in red grapes.
In animal studies [rats], feeding blueberries have shown increased vascular nitric oxide that affects control of blood pressure. It also altered glycosaminoglycans that are components of vascular cells controlling blood pressure. It also showed lowering of blood cholesterol. Diets with blueberry may reduce blood sugar and depression symptoms.
Tomatoes are good antioxidants containing lycopene and vitamin C. They have been used in various cuisines such as tomato sauce or “red sauce” for pasta like the famous spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, baked macaroni, marinara and more.
They can be eaten raw. They can be mixed in vegetable salads. It has caused confusion due to its used in culinary. It is the component of the famous ketchup. You can enjoy it as tomato soup. Tomatoes can also be pickled, or breaded and fried using usually unripe green tomatoes to make salsa. It can also be squeezed to make tomato juice drink. It is used to make the cocktail Bloody Mary.
They can be canned whole or in pieces. Aside from tomato sauce, it can also be made into tomato paste. They also make sundried tomatoes, and some are preserved in oil and used as dip. It can also be enjoyed mixed with salted egg.
Tomatoes provide energy, dietary fiber, protein, water, vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium. It is said to benefit the heart. It contains the carotene lycopene that provides its antioxidant property. Lycopene especially in cooked tomatoes is said to help in the prevention of prostate cancer. It has also exhibited ability to improve the ability of the skin to protect against sunburn and harmful effects of UV rays. It helps make the skin glow and stay young.
What does lycopene do? It protects against damage due to oxidation as shown in epidemiological studies. Tomato is the richest source of lycopene. It also shows to reduce risk of breast cancer, neck and head cancers, and provides protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Raw tomato, tomato puree and tomato sauce are considered to help decrease urinary tract symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia and exhibit anti-cancer properties. it also reduces risk of heart disease in type 2 diabetes.