At a glance, the golden berries can be called as a simple fruit. Just a bit smaller than a tomatillo, covered in a pretty papery calyx, and of course, bright golden. It even tastes like you would expect. Sweet and somewhat tart, with a pleasing pop when you bite into it. The usual experience for a berry.
But what’s not usual is the astounding nutrient density and health benefits of the fruit, leading it to rightly be called a “superfood”. (For your information, a superfood is a term used to refer to foods, mostly plant-based but also fish and dairy, that are extremely nutrient dense and good for your health. This bright orange berry ticks both those boxes.)
You might see this fruit being called cape gooseberries, groundcherries, husk cherries or Inca berries. They’re called that because golden berries are actually native to the Andes mountains, home of the Inca people. The ancient people have cultivated the fruit as far back as 4,000 years ago. Perhaps they knew the health benefits of the golden berry as well! Despite this almost mythic past, the nutritious golden fruit is making a comeback: they are rapidly gaining fame thanks to their health benefits, great taste and the sheer variety of recipes you can put them in.
In this article you’ll get to know about golden berries’ nutrition, how it benefits you, some potential side effects, and most importantly — how to eat them.
Nutrition wonders of the golden berry
The golden berry punches above its weight when it comes to nutrition. 100 grams of the fruit on average contains the following(1):
- 53 calories
- 11.2 grams of carbs
- 1.9 grams of protein
- 0.7 grams of fat
- 5% recommended daily value of Vitamin A
- 10% recommended daily value of Thiamine (B1)
- 3% recommended daily value of Riboflavin (B2)
- 19% recommended daily value of Niacin (B3)
- 13% recommended daily value of Vitamin C
- 8% recommended daily value of iron
- 6% recommended daily value of phosphorous
- 1% recommended daily value of calcium.
Aside from these nutrients, the golden berry also boasts high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin-K (2). We’ll look at what these do, and other health benefits of golden berries, up next.
Health Benefits of Golden Berries
As you saw above, this fruit is brimming with nutrients and a whole bunch of assorted goodness. Here’s what all those nutrients of golden berries impact your health: (hint, they’re all positive impacts!)
1.Golden berries Improve your immunity
As we mentioned above, 100g of these berries contain 13% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This vitamin is what boosts the production of white blood cells in your body, which in turn help protect your body from infections (3).
Popping a few golden berries will also reward you with multiple polyphenols, which can prevent inflammatory immune markers (4). But more on that later
2. Golden Berries can Combats Cholesterol
Golden berries have been studied to contain an antioxidant named “phytosterol” (2). While we’ll be talking about antioxidants in just a second, phytosterols are important because they can help lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood (5). LDL cholesterol, by the way, is the so-called “bad cholesterol”, because a high low-density cholesterol level leads to cholesterol buildup in your arteries. This in turn could spell coronary artery disease and related problems (6).
Long story short, eat your golden berries and it’ll help keep your cholesterol in check.
3. Golden Berries Protect your cells from free radicals
Free radicals are molecules produced in your body when you digest food or when you smoke, and have been linked to aging and cancer (7, 8). Antioxidants are a plant compound that keep free radicals at bay. And they are high in antioxidants (9).
Going into more detail, our little orange fruit contains phenolic compounds which have been shown to inhibit cancerous growth specifically in the breast and colon (10).
In summary, golden berries are an excellent food item to provide your body with cancer-blocking, anti-aging antioxidants.
4. Golden berries Help prevent inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting you from invading infections, including viruses and bacteria (11). Unfortunately, sometimes your immune system triggers this response when there isn’t any threat. In the end all that’s attacked and damaged are your own cells.
Golden berries contain a natural steroid called “withanolides” (12). While they won’t make you buff, these steroids might help reduce or prevent inflammation in cases such as arthritis and auto-immune diseases (13).
5. Other benefits: improved vision, bone health, digestive health
These delicious little gems come with a host of other health benefits as well.
Thanks to their beta-carotene content, as well as a few other carotenoids (2), golden berries are great if you’re looking to keep your sight healthy. This is because fruits high in carotenoids, such as the golden one in question, have been linked to a lowered risk of blindness brought on by macular degeneration (14).
Another great perk of the golden berry is that it’s high in vitamin K (2). Your body needs this vitamin to, among other things, have healthy bones and cartilage. It’s also important for your bones to stay new and strong (15).
Finally, golden berries contain a good amount of dietary fibre (16). Fibre is invaluable in normalizing bowel movements and maintaining bowel health, as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels (17, 18).
Side effects: what to watch out for when eating golden berries
Despite their sweet, golden appearance, golden berries belong to the nightshade family of plants. As such, it’s best to take some precautions when popping a few of these fruits.
Because of their plant family, unripe golden berries contain a natural toxin named solanine (19). This substance is known to cause cramps and diarrhea. Some rare cases have been fatal. (20).
It’s best to err on the side of caution and only eat ripe golden berries. You can spot these by their fully golden color, with the absence of any green areas.
You should also practise moderation when it comes to eating this delicious fruit: in certain non-human tests, very high doses of golden berry juice have resulted in heart damage in mice. Again, better safe than sorry: as good as golden berries are, limit your consumption.
How to eat golden berries
With a solid understanding about what golden berries do for your health, it’s about time we looked at what they can do for your meals.
There are many ways you can add golden berries to your diet. Their unique tart taste stands out in a variety of bakes, as well as just about any snack where you would add fruits.
Here are a few particular ways you can use golden berries:
- Add them to fruit salads,
- Add them to non-fruit salads!
- Use them to add an interesting flavor to smoothies,
- Use them in fruit-and-nut yoghurt,
- Make them into a jam,
- Add them to granola, oatmeal or trail mix,
- Dip them in chocolate for a decadent dessert, or
- Eat them raw for a healthy snack!
As long as you remember that golden berries are more tart than sweet, you can get as creative as you want with them.
Golden berries are good in a lot of ways: they do good for your body while tasting just as good. There’s a reason it’s called a superfood.
As long as you remember to eat them when they’re ripe, and toss the covering husk, this right gem of a fruit will provide you with an avalanche of health benefits. Also, as hard as it will be, try not to eat too much…
We wish you healthy berry snacking, and hope you’ll let us know your golden berry story down in the comments.