Berry good!

Berries are low in calories, high in fibre, and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in phytochemicals and flavonoids that can help reduce the risk of cancer. Chloe Ong, Senior Dietitian from Parkway Cancer Centre, looks at what berries can do for you.


Health benefit
Rich source of vitamin C, iron, manganese and dietary fibre. Also a good source of antioxidants, polyphenols and phytonutrients.

Health issue
May cause serious allergic reactions in some, such as swelling and redness of mouth, lips and tongue, or gastrointestinal disturbances.

Key component
Ellagic acid, a natural phytonutrient that is believed to prevent damage to cell membrane and DNA, hence preventing free radicals’ action in the cell.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 63kcals
  • Carbohydrate 15g
  • Protein 1.5g
  • Fat 1g
  • Dietary fibre 8g
  • Vitamin C 54mg
  • Iron 5mg



Health benefit
High level of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibre. Also rich in antioxidants, anthocyanins and phytonutrients.

Eat more if you…
Have cardiovascular risks, malignant diseases and age-related diseases. Also if you often get urinary tract infection.

Key component
Proanthocyanidins that prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract. When bacteria cannot attach, they cannot multiply to cause infection.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 57kcals
  • Carbohydrate 14.5g
  • Protein 1g
  • Fat 0.3g
  • Dietary fibre 2.4g
  • Vitamin A 54 IU
  • Vitamin C 10mg
  • Manganese 6mg


Acai berry

Health benefit
Rich in anthocyanins and essential fatty acids.

Health issue
Do not consume excessively if you have heart valve problems, as there may be possible drug interactions.

Key component
Plant sterols, naturally-occurring steroid alcohols as phytonutrients in plants. They are believed to help reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 90kcals
  • Carbohydrate 2g
  • Protein 1g
  • Dietary fibre 3.5g



Health benefit
Rich source of vitamin C and phytonutrients such as flavonoids.

Health issue
May cause allergy or anaphylactic reaction. Research suggests that the allergen could be linked to a protein involved in the ripening of the fruit.

Key component
Phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins and ellagic acid.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 40kcals
  • Carbohydrate 8g
  • Protein 1g
  • Fat 0.5g
  • Vitamin C 80mg
  • Dietary fibre 3g



Health benefit
The arils or seeds contain vitamin C and phytonutrients.

Eat more if you…
Have high LDL cholesterol. Pomegranates may also help to keep blood platelets from clumping together.

Key component
Ellagic acid.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 83kcals
  • Carbohydrate 18.7g
  • Protein 1.7g
  • Fat 1.2g
  • Dietary fibre 4g
  • Vitamin C 10mg


Wolfberry (goji berry)

Health benefit
Rich in nutrients, minerals and trace minerals, phytonutrients and carotenoids.

Health issue
May contain a toxic alkaloid called atropine. The level of atropine varies depending on the source of the berry. Most berries are below the toxic limit.

Eat more if you…
Have vision disorders such as cataracts, retinopathy and macular degeneration.

Key component
Typical phytochemicals such as polysaccharides (LBP), betaine, zeaxanthin, physalien, cryptoxanthin, sesquiterpenoids, triterpenes and beta-sitosterol.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 370kcals
  • Carbohydrate 63g
  • Protein 11g
  • Fat 4g
  • Dietary fibre 9g
  • Calcium 112mg
  • Iron 9mg
  • Zinc 2mg
  • Selenium 50mcg
  • Vitamin C 90mg



Health benefit
High level of magnesium, vitamin C and dietary fibre. Also a source of polyphenol antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Health issue
More acidic than most carbonated drinks, which may dissolve tooth enamel over time.

Eat more if you…
Often get urinary tract infection, or if you have neurogenic bladder (a bladder disease), as cranberries will help deodorise urine in those with urinary incontinence.

Key component
Proanthocyanidins that inhibit bacterial attachment to the bladder and urethra.

Nutritional analysis (per 100g)

  • Energy 46kcals
  • Carbohydrate 4g
  • Protein 0g
  • Fat 0g
  • Dietary fibre 4.6g
  • Magnesium 6mg
  • Vitamin C 13mg
  • Vitamin A 60 IU


But remember…

  • As it is difficult to quantify the amount of antioxidant properties, no specific dosage is indicated for the berries to provide maximum benefit.
  • Include a variety of berries in your diet to provide a wide range of nutrients.
  • Consume these berries as natural fresh fruits, frozen, juice, jam, and other food products rather than in supplement/tablet/concentrated form.
  • Most antioxidants and phytonutrients can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases, and of malignant diseases. They can also reduce the effect of ageing. However, it is difficult to quantify the direct relationship between berries and such health benefits.

Tags: cancer diet & nutrition, healthy food & cooking, reduce cancer risk