You’re no stranger to blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. But did you know there are dozens upon dozens of different berry species in the world?
If you go by the botanical meaning—that a berry is a pit-free, fleshy fruit produced from a single flower containing one ovary—everything from bananas to chili peppers to watermelons falls under that definition.
So, with a meaning that broad, what is a berry, really?
Colloquially, we tend to use the word “berry” for nutrient-rich, juicy, round, soft-fleshed fruits. They generally contain seeds, plus a slew of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can boost your memory, reduce inflammation and more. Here are some types of berries to use in baked goods, jams, smoothies and more.
Taste: sweet, juicy, slightly acidic
Health benefits: Bring on the antioxidant, polyphenol and anti-inflammatory perks.
Due to their abundant flavonoids (which are natural compounds found in plants that protect the body against everyday toxins), eating strawberries on the regular may help curb cognitive decline.
You can eat more than just the berry, too: Strawberry tops (aka the leaves) have been proven to aid gastrointestinal discomfort and joint pain. Try infusing water or vinegar with strawberry leaves, tossing them in a smoothie or steeping them in boiled water to make tea.
Scientific name: Cyanococcus
Taste: sweet, floral, sometimes sour
Health benefits: Blueberries are loaded with heart-healthy potassium, folate, fiber and vitamin C. Like strawberries, blueberries boast plenty of memory-boosting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies show that they might delay cognitive aging as well, thanks to their high flavonoid levels.
Scientific name: Rubus idaeus
Health benefits: Not only do raspberries have 8 grams of fiber per serving, but they’re packed with diverse antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Research shows that they can help better manage type-2 diabetes and obesity.
Their leaves are also loaded with healing properties that have been used to reduce pregnancy side effects for centuries, including nausea and vomiting. Red raspberry leaf tea is touted to strengthen the uterus, shorten labor, reduce complications and prevent postpartum bleeding.
Scientific name: Rubus
Taste: tart-sweet, sometimes sour
Health benefits: One cup of blackberries contains about 2 grams of protein and an impressive 8 grams of fiber. Each serving also boasts half your daily recommended amount of vitamin C, as well as antioxidants and brain-boosting polyphenols.
Scientific name: Vaccinium subgenus Oxycoccus
Taste: tart, bitter
Health benefits: Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of raw cranberries is reported to boost the health of the urinary tract, digestive system and immune system. They could also potentially reduce your risk of cancer, ulcers and degenerative diseases rooted in cell damage.
Scientific name: Rubus ursinus x Rubus idaeus
Taste: sweet, tangy, floral
Health benefits: Boysenberries—a cross between a raspberry, blackberry, dewberry and loganberry—are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Research shows that they can help lower blood pressure and aid in preventing fat absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. Since they have lots of antioxidants like other berries, boysenberries can help you maintain a healthy brain and protect against cognitive aging, cell damage and Alzheimer’s.