In season now and at their sweetest, berries are brimming with health benefits. They're high in fibre and vitamin C, as well as potassium, which is great for exercisers as it helps with the repair and recovery of your muscles
A recent study found that blueberries and strawberries help prevent hypertension, thanks to the flavonoids in their skin. Flavonoids are colour-providing pigments that are high in antioxidants, which help to fight damage done by free radicals to our cells. This, in turn, can help to slow ageing and prevent diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's.
Berries are super-versatile too. They can be eaten as a snack, added to your yoghurt or cereal or whizzed in a blender to make a nutritious post-run smoothie. Buy them fresh or frozen to reap their full benefits, as juices and dried fruits can contain additional sugar. If you can't find organic berries, wash them well before eating to make sure they aren't covered in any residual pesticides.
Acai: Acai berries are native to Brazil and are great for helping to fight infections and ease stiff joints. They are also thought to help increase energy levels and speed up the metabolism - making them perfect after a workout or to help you slim down.
Cranberries: Cranberries are available all year round if you include the dried variety but fresh is (usually) best, although they do have a bitter taste and need to be cooked or stewed first. Cranberry juice in particular is thought to help aid mild urinary bladder infections such as cyctitis, but this is a bit of an urban myth as most cranberry juices contain high levels of sugar to mask their natural bitterness, which is counter-productive. A powdered or supplement variety is a much more effective way to treat those uncomfortable symptoms.
Goji berries: Goji berries taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry and have become really popular because of their extremely high levels of antioxidants. They've even been touted as 'the world's most powerful anti-ageing food'. They are also rich in beta-carotene, which is important in protecting your eyesight, thanks to their orange-red colour.
Mangosteen: Mangosteen is a lesser known berry, but they've been eaten for centuries by the Maoris and they're a fantastic addition to your diet if you can find them. As well as all the benefits of other berries, they contain a specific antioxidant called xanthine, which research has shown can give a significant boost to your cardiovascular health. They are also naturally antibiotic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory, making them one of the most powerful antioxidant foods in nature.
Raspberries: Raspberries have almost 50 per cent more antioxidants than strawberries and 10 times that of tomatoes, and they contain antimicrobial properties that can help protect against the overgrowth of certain bacteria such as those found in thrush and IBS. They are particularly rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron, and some B vitamins too - a berry powerhouse!
Strawberries: Eating just five strawberries a day provides your intake of vitamin C alone - great news for your immune system. Their high flavonoid content can help reduce inflammatory conditions such as eczema, asthma and even hay fever.
Blueberries: One of the best tasting berries around; blueberries are an amazing source of flavonoids. They can help to improve brain function, support the help of our eyes and cardiovascular system and help increase the potency of vitamin C within the body. As vitamin C is needed for collagen production, blueberries are a natural anti-ageing gem.