Have a Berry-Berry Good Life!

Berries, Cherries & Grapes, oh my....

Another “anti” week! These fruits are all extremely powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-aging, anti-cancer agents and more. With each berry, cherry, or grape I found myself repeating the health benefits, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, as well as flavonoids. Except for grapes they are fairly low in sugar and calories but pack a nutritional punch.

Rather than repeat the individual compounds I am going to state them all together here and individualize only a few characteristics.

The dark color in these fruits comes from “anthocyanidins” and “proanthocyanidins” which are the most powerful of antioxidant flavonoids. They are found in the skin and flesh of the fruit. They have the ability to increase vitamin c levels within the cells, increase strength of blood vessels, protect against free radical damage, support the joint structure, protect the neurons in the brain from oxidative stress, support urinary tract health, and prevent the destruction of collagen.

These fruits have been shown over and over again to be true “brain food”, protecting the brain and improving memory. Not only do they help the brain’s neurons communicate better, the polyphenols have been shown to actually “turn on” signals to improve memory, coordination and balance. There is even evidence that it not only improves performance of existing neurons, it helps to generate new ones!

Eye health is improved due to the content of lutein and xeanathin, which also help filter UV light.

Ellagic Acid (especially abundant in strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries) exhibits significant anticancer activity and has been shown to inhibit growth of tumors caused by certain carcinogens. Ellagic acid is destroyed by heat, but unaffected by freezing.

The anti-inflammatory properties not only protect against cancer and heart disease, the ability of the flavonoids to lessen the activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, COX, which is linked to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. It acts much the same was as aspirin and ibuprofen by blocking COX enzymes so no pain messages are sent. This activity seems to especially powerful from cherries.

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