Every morning without fail for the past few years, I have started my day with a bowl of berries: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries.

Of course, I have other things with that, to round out my breakfast, but I never feel quite right unless I have my big bowl of berries.

When it comes to natural healing methods, I am a big believer in really tuning in to our body and listening to what the body needs when it comes to our food.

Now comes a new study that proves why my body may have been craving all those berries.

A story reported today in the Huffington Post says that berries may play an important role in clearing toxic proteins from the brain.

A study reported at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting showed that rats who ate berries for two months were better protected against radiation.

Specifically, the researchers found that berry consumption was linked with increased autophagy, which is the natual process the brain undergoes to clear out the accumulation of toxic proteins.

In diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, there is an accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain. This suggests that eating berries may slow cognitive decline.

Want a few good other reasons to eat berries?

  1. Berries are high in anthocyanins, water soluble pigments that give berries their red, purple or blue coloring, depending on the pH. Anthocyanins have been researched for their potential health benefits against cancer and the production of tumors, aging and neurological disease, inflammation, diabetes, bacterial infections and fibrocystic disease.
  2. Berries are low on the glycemic index, which means that although they are carbohydrates that give us energy, they don’t provoke a big insulin response. They are our best choices for fruits and fall below 55 or less on the glycemic index.
  3. Berries are high in antioxidants. One cup of strawberries, for example, contains 141 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C.
  4. Aside from vitamins, which are more well known and understood by the general public, berries contain a number of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients, including flavonols, hydroxybenzoic acids, hydroxy-cinnamic acids, tannins, resveratrol and stilbenes.
  5. Blueberries have been shown to help lower your LDL cholesterol. Studies show you would have to eat 1 to 2 cups of blueberries daily over a three month period to lower your LDL.
  6. Eating blueberries daily may improve your memory. One study had participants eat between 2 and 2 1/2 cups of blueberries every day and showed improvement on different tests of cognitive function, including memory.
  7. Raspberries have been studied for their anti-obesity effects. The rheosmin found in raspberries can increase metabolism in our fat cells by increasing enzyme activity, oxygen consumption and heat production in certain types of fat cells. In addition, rheosmin decreases activity of a fat-digesting enzyme called pancreatic lipase. By decreasing this enzyme, we may digest and absorb less fat.