Purple is the colour of royalty; a rich, luxurious hue that shows how special they are. Purple food should be given the same status, especially when it’s as packed full of body-boosting anthocyanins as haskap berries.
What are anthocyanins?
Yeah, I can hear you shouting right now: body-boosting what???? Don’t worry, this isn’t another buzzword. Anthocyanins are simply chemical compounds that give plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables their purple colour. (It’s also responsible for the red and blue tones, too.) It’s been used for dyes and food colouring for years, but that purple has an extra bonus: it’s great for your health.
Research has found that anthocyanins are:
- rich in anti-oxidents, protecting our cells against free radicals,
- anti-inflammatory, so they help repair and protect damaged tissue,
- heart-friendly, appearing to improve cholesterol levels and helping prevent high blood pressure,
- good for your eyesight, both day and night vision,
- anti-carcinogenic, inhibiting the development and spread of cancer cell growth, and
- good for the brain, with studies suggesting they help reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age.
It is the anthocyanins that make blueberries so good for you. But now there’s a new superfood on the block that promises even more benefits.
What are haskap berries
Also known as blue honeysuckle and honeyberry, among other names, haskap berries have a long history stretching back to the frozen wildlands of Siberia, where they were picked up by birds and carried on their routes to Japan. For centuries they’ve been eaten by the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido, where their medicinal benefits earnt them the name “haskap” – “berry of long life and good vision”.
In looks, haskap berries are very similar to the blueberry, but they’re slightly longer and don’t have that plump eye appeal. However, what they lack in looks, they more than make up for in anthocyanins. Haskap berries contain up to four times more than blueberries, together with three times more antioxidant properties.
Sounds good. Where can I get them?
After their initial migration, haskap berries are now mainly found in Russia, Japan, Canada and Poland. Which isn’t great if you want to pop out to your local Sainsbury’s for a few tubs.
However, there is an easy way to add a dose of deliciousness benefits to your diet: Haskapa Powder*. It is 100% freeze-dried haskap berries and one teaspoon is all you need to add 50mg of anthocyanins to your diet each day, the amount that is said to give health benefits.
I was given a sachet to review and I’ve been adding a couple of teaspoons to my porridge in the morning, along with some defrosted berries. It gives it a very unique taste: sweet, but with a tartness that’s quite zingy. It’s very more-ish. I also love the bright colour – and so does Lottie, my cat! I’ve never seen her more interested in porridge making as for my photo!!
Haskap berries and menopause
Research is ongoing into the health benefits of anthocyanins, but studies suggest it could play a role in helping perimenopausal and menopausal women.
Scientists found that taking 22g of freeze-dried blueberry powder helped lower blood pressure in a group of postmenopausal women. As the risk of high blood pressure increases after menopause (and if you’re on some types of HRT), this could be a step towards reducing any related health problems, such as heart disease.
Anthocynins can also help stop weight gain and reduce body fat, both of which are common problems among menopausal women. Plus researchers in Japan found anthocyanins had a beneficial impact on bone density. Women’s bones become more at risk from the loss of oestrogen in midlife, so if berries can help in fighting osteoporosis, I’m all for it!
(If you want to know more about the role nutrition can play in helping menopause symtpoms, check out my talk with Jackie Lynch, the author of The Happy Menopause.)
On days I don’t have porridge (it is a faff at times), I’ve been trying Haskapa powder in other ways. I particularly like this recipe for tea, as you can never get enough tea in my book, and I really want to try this Haskapa Chia Pudding with Sliced Figs. Love figs!
What do you think? Do you fancy adding haskap berries to your diet? I’d love to know. Leave me a comment below.
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