The Golden Berry or Inca Berry is a sweet but somewhat tart tasting fruit that is often used as a fresh garnish (complete with fancy paper shell) on a fancy, expensive dessert, or on an elegant plate of fruit. I have also seen these berries sold in a health food store as dried raisin-like fruit (without the paper shell) in packages. Are these berries simply a fancy culinary fad, or is there more to them? Are they a super food, perhaps?
Let’s start at the beginning… Golden berries are native to South America. In Columbia, they are particularly important as a local food and for export. They are also grown in Hawaii, South Africa and Australia. These berries have other names, such as Physalis Peruvian, Cape Gooseberry, and Peruvian Ground Cherry.
Golden berries grow on a bush and while growing, they develop a fancy papery covering called calyx. The calyx protects them from the harmful effects of bad weather, from birds and from insects. The calyx also helps to keep the berries fresh for about a month after harvesting. The shelf life of fresh golden berries without the calyx is only about 5 days.
As it turns out, there is more to these little berries than one would expect – they aren’t just a pretty orange berry with a paper coat. These berries are highly nutritious. For a small berry, they have a fairly big nutritional profile and a whole lot of health benefits to match. Here’s the low-down on the good stuff they contain and the benefits:
- Contain a large amount of antioxidants and flavonoids, which have been shown to be beneficial for heart health. More about the antioxidant benefits later in the blog…
- Lots of Vitamin A, which is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, beneficial for the eyes, skin and mucous membranes and is important for appetite, growth and taste.
- High amount of Vitamin C, another antioxidant. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron and it supports the formation of collagen, which is needed for growth and repair of tissue cells, bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels.
- Contains vegetable protein. Protein is very important for tissues, blood cells, bones, enzyme and hormone production and much more.
- Have iron,which transports oxygen throughout the body, helps the immune system function normally, and reduces overall tiredness and fatigue.
- Contains fiber: 1 oz golden berries contains about 3 grams of fiber. Fiber helps us have good digestion and elimination, it lowers the glycemic impact of foods, and it can lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Helps fluid balance, because golden berries can have a diuretic effect
- Contains phytosterols, which are plant compounds that are very similar to cholesterol and are thought to be beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of cancer and boosting the immune system.
- Have fatty acids, which are necessary building blocks for brain and the nervous system.
- Other vitamins in golden berries: Vitamins E, K1, B1, B2, and B3.
About the sugar content of golden berries:
They are low in sugar and low in calories. Golden berries are sweet but at the same time they have a tart flavor. When dried – golden berries are actually lower in sugar than most dried fruits.
Effects on blood sugar:
Studies show that golden berries could have a positive effect on blood sugar by slowing down the process of carbohydrates turning to blood sugar. Golden berries seem to inhibit an enzyme responsible for this process.
More about antioxidants in golden berries:
The antioxidants in golden berries have anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, the anti-redness and antioxidant compounds found are being studied to learn more about their effectiveness in protecting the body’s organs including the liver, kidneys and lungs. Research has already shown that golden berries reduce the effect of proteins that cause redness and swelling. Golden berries are also being researched for their possible cancer curing properties.
In answer to the original question, I would have to say that golden berries are truly both a culinary fad and a super food! So next time you encounter these neat (fresh) little orange berries that wear a paper coat, give them a try! You may be surprised at their tartness, and you’ll be boosting your health! Or pick up a package of them (dried) at your local health food store – they are lower in sugar than most dried fruits, with health benefits to boot!
Are you interested in learning more about which foods will boost your health and suit your busy lifestyle? Contact me!
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