A British summer wouldn’t be British without a generous bowlful of bright, juicy berries (even if it does rain at Wimbledon).
Out of all fruit and veg, berries have undoubtedly attracted one of the largest collective bodies of scientific research, which makes them the perfect subject for a chapter in my new book, How to Eat Better − my guide to getting the very best nutrition out of the foods you love to eat every day.
Aside from being a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, the complex phytonutrient make up of berries (in particular the anthocyanin pigments that give them their red and purple colouring) is associated with a diverse array of wellbeing benefits, from boosting brain function to fighting inflammation.
However, while most of us would probably assume that blueberries are king when it comes to nutrition, my research turned up a surprising result. It is, in fact, the lesser eaten British blackcurrant that comes up trumps, positively slaying blueberries in the stats stakes with twice the anthocyanins (according to one trial at least) and a whopping 37 times the vitamin C.
That’s why I’ve chosen blackcurrants for this health-fuelled breakfast recipe inspired by the trendy Brazilian acai bowl. Not only are they far easier, and cheaper, to get hold of, blackcurrants consistently rank the highest of all berries for phytonutrient content across a range of studies. Simply blend, serve and imagine yourself on Ipanema beach. Easy!
Prep time: 5 minutes
100g strawberries, hulled, plus extra to serve (optional)
2 sliced bananas, frozen
150ml apple juice
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
A mix of fruit and nuts, plus maybe a sneaky square or three of chocolate as a treat
Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender until you have a smooth puree.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and serve with your chosen toppings.
If you can get your hands on them, wild berries are often even higher in the nutritional stakes than cultivated ones, though that does depend on where in the world you live. For instance, the wild European bilberry (a close relative of the more common American blueberry) is popular in eastern Europe and Scandinavia has a whopping four times more anthocyanins than regular cultivated blueberries.