The Berberis vulgaris or barberry is a shrub that’s native to parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe but now can be found in many countries all over the world. It produces red berries that have a tart flavour, somewhat similar to cranberries or sour cherries. For centuries, said berries have been used in traditional medicine to treat infections, skin conditions, and digestive problems. In fact, they’re a common ingredient in Iranian cuisine because of the health benefits associated with them.
But are barberries all that they’re said to be? Here’s a quick overview of the health benefits one can expect from including barberries in one’s diet.
Barberries are rich in carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin C, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect against cellular damage and can therefore help lower the risk of cancer. Meanwhile, copper, manganese and zinc help boost the immune system and therefore play crucial roles in preventing disease.
Even the red colour of the berries caused by anthocyanins is a health benefit since these are plant pigments that can boost both heart and brain health.
Better Diabetes Management
Barberries contain a plant compound called berberine, which is associated with a number of health benefits, including reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. For someone with diabetes, this means better or easier management. Meanwhile, someone with a history of the disease will have a lower risk of actually acquiring it.
On top of that, berberine may also slow the progression of cancer cells, and help in fighting off infections. Plus, its anti-inflammatory and therapeutic effects could well lead to better treatment of conditions that lead to inflammation.
For years, barberries have been used to treat digestive issues, and diarrhoea is one of those. Again, the benefit is linked to the high concentration of berberine, since this compound helps ensure that waste material travels through the gastrointestinal tract slowly enough that diarrhoea is unlikely to occur.
It also helps prevent this condition by fighting off bacteria such as E. coli that cause infections that can lead to diarrhoea.
Prevention of Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase one’s risk of diabetes and heart disease, particularly obesity and high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels. One 8-week study found that participants diagnosed with type-2 diabetes experienced a reduction in blood pressure, triglyceride, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels after drinking about 7 ounces of barberry juice each day.
While more studies on this health benefit are needed, it’s still worth noting.
Better Dental Health
As mentioned earlier, berberine has anti-inflammatory properties. These aren’t just for a healthier gut, but they can have an effect on dental health, too, especially in preventing or treating inflammatory dental diseases such as gingivitis. A study on boys aged 11 and 12 years old found that a barberry dental gel led to reduced plaque and occurrence of gingivitis by a significant amount, compared to applying a placebo.
With all these health benefits, it’s no wonder that barberries are a great addition to anyone’s diet. So if you are in Australia and want to try adding barberry dried fruit to yours but aren’t sure where to buy it, visit this page.