We never think about it, but the term “berry” is a botanical term used to classify certain foods. It is surprising when you learn that foods that have the name “berry” in them are actually not berries; this applies to foods such as blackberries and raspberries, but somehow bananas and pumpkins are berries. So what defines a “berry”?
One of the big classifications that denote whether or not something is a berry is that it has a pulp and seeds that tend to develop from the flower’s ovary. Berries also have endocarps that are thin and pericarps that are fleshy.
Continue reading to learn more about berries. What makes a berry a berry? What is the difference between fruits and berries? Are berries healthy to eat? Why is a banana classified as a berry?
What Is A Berry?
The term “berry” is actually a botanical term. It is used to denote specific fruits, although we tend to use the term loosely when referring to specific fruits that we have always denoted to be berries without taking the botanical definition into consideration.
Many are surprised when they learn that fruits that include the word “berry” in their name may not be technically classified as berries. Some of these fruits include raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
What Denotes A Berry?
It is strange to think that some of the foods that many of us have considered to be berries all our lives are actually not botanically considered to be berries, while other foods such as bananas, pumpkins, and cucumbers somehow fall into the botanical category of berry. This is a great example of how common denotation is not always aligned with scientific denotation.
By botanical definition, a berry is a fruit that is produced from the ovary of a flower and has seeds and fleshy pulp. Berries also have a pericarp, the wall of the fruit, which is divided into three layers known as the exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp.
Examples of Berries
We have established that blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not botanically berries, despite having the word “berry” in their names. There are many foods that are considered botanically to be berries. Some of these foods we already know to be berries, but there are others that you would not think to be berries.
Some of the foods that are classified as berries, using the botanical definition, are:
What’s the Difference Between Fruits and Berries?
All berries are fruits, but not all fruits are berries. This phrase works perfectly when defining a difference between fruits and berries.
Fruit is often used to describe the sweet, seed-holding part of a flowering plant. Scientifically, a fruit is the reproductive organ of flowering plants with the primary function of distributing seeds to new areas for more plants to grow.
There are many different categories when it comes to fruits. There are dry fruits, like nuts, and fleshy fruits, such as apples. There are aggregate fruits and multiple fruits. Then, there are simple fruits, and it is within this category that you will find berries.
Bananas Are Botanically Berries
Bananas are berries. This fact is often said amongst children to throw off their friends and make them sound smart. While this may be surprising to learn, bananas are botanically berries.
As stated previously, there are many characteristics that help to distinguish berries from other fruits. In order for a fruit to be classified as a berry, it must develop from a single ovary and have a soft exocarp and fleshy mesocarp.
Based on these, a banana is a berry. Bananas have a fleshy middle with a soft skin. Bananas also develop from a flower that has one single ovary. Bananas also have seeds, but the seeds are so small that most do not notice them.
What Are the Health Benefits of Berries?
There are many health benefits that can come with adding berries to your diet.
Berries Help Prevent and Manage Diabetes
Fruits that are lower on the glycemic index can help regulate your sugar, and berries are some of these fruits. While berries are sweet, they do not have a high glycemic load which means that they are unlikely to cause a large swing in your blood sugar.
Berries are a great fruit to add to your diet to help manage your diabetes or prevent diabetes. This has to do with both the low glycemic levels and the high fibre content some berries can have.
Berries Help Prevent Heart Disease
Flavonoids are antioxidant plant compounds that tend to be associated with lower odds of developing heart disease. Berries tend to be high in flavonoids. They are considered to be a superfood by the American Heart Association.
It has been found that berries may help to lower the risk of heart attacks for women. The antioxidants in berries can help to protect against inflammation as well as promote healthy cell function.
Berries Can Help You Lose Weight
Eating berries can help to give you a feeling of fullness. This is due primarily to the amount of fibre as well as the liquid content of the berries. Berries also have a low calorie count.
In a 2018 study, a group of obese and overweight men that were in a randomized, controlled trial were to eat a high-fat diet while including a small amount (less than an ounce) of blackberries. These men burned more fat and had improved sensitivity to insulin when compared to the control group.
Berries Help Lower Blood Pressure
It was discovered that eating over a cup of blueberries every day for a month resulted in an improvement in blood vessel dilation which helped to lower systolic blood pressure. This is primarily because the anthocyanins found in berries will circulate in your bloodstream where they can help improve the function of blood vessels.
Berries Can Help Fight Urinary Tract Infections
When it comes to urinary tract health, there is one berry that many people will already think of, and this is the cranberry. In cranberries, there are anthocyanins that help to protect against the strain of E.Coli that contributes to urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Berries May Help Prevent Parkinson’s Disease
Research has found that those who eat around two servings of berries a week can possibly have less of a chance of developing Parkinson’s Disease compared to those who do not. You do not need to eat the berries plain in order to receive these benefits.
Berries Can Help You Stay Mentally Sharp
Eating berries can help you hold off from cognitive decline as you get older. It is the anthocyanins in berries that can help with this.
Berries are defined as being a fruit that has seeds and pulp. They also come from the ovary of a flowering plant. While all berries are fruits, not all fruits are berries. Raspberries and blackberries are not botanically classified as berries, while bananas, pumpkin, and cucumbers are.