Heart, Men's Health, General | July 29, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
A berry as we generally know it, is a small, rounded, juicy fruit and highly coloured, that usually has no stone, maybe sweet or sour and is full of goodness. The pips might be found in the skin like with strawberries, or found inside the fruit. Scientifically a berry is a fruit produced from the ovary of a single plant where the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible fruit (pericarp).
This scientific terminology includes many fruits that are not commonly known as berries, such as grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants (aubergines), peppers, goji berry and bananas and excludes fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, which are aggregate fruits, and mulberries, which are multiple fruits.
Some berries can be poisonous to humans, some poisonous if eaten unripe.
For this article we are referring to the commonly known berries such as are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, gogi berries and blackcurrants, as well as the highly colourful ‘true’ berries as both potentially contain much of the same goodness
Why do we say full of goodness? Well basically full of antioxidants - to the degree they are considered to be the plants that contain the most antioxidants.
Oxidation is the production of unstable chemicals called free radicals that can cause damage to our cells and DNA. Free radicals are generated during metabolic processes. Free radical damage has been linked to certain diseases such as cancer, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, cataract, cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, liver disease and structural damage like arthritis. Some free radical damage is dealt with by the body and may actually be useful, the problem is when there is an overload of free radical damage over a long period of time and the body is unable to cope - leading to irreversible damage and disease. Oxidation can be accelerated or exacerbated by pollution, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sunlight and stress.
Phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables are thought to contain abundant antioxidants. These include vitamin A, vitamin C, the minerals zinc and selenium, and flavones such as lycopene and lutein. Some specific antioxidants are listed below.
Phytochemicals are found in plants and are naturally occurring antioxidants. They provide flavour, colour pigments and smell and they are abundant in all types of fruits and vegetables, particularly berries.
Anthocyanins. The bright colour of some fruits is provided by powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Blue, purple and red colour such as those of blue berries, strawberries, raspberries and eggplant has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, cardiovascular disease and healthy aging.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two major components of the macular pigments of the retina of the eye. They are powerful antioxidants that also play a preventative role in cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung cancer and ultraviolet radiation damage of the skin.
Catechins are flavones found in red raspberries and blackberries that help with the antioxidant defence system.
Quercetin is a flavone that works as an anti-carcinogen and an antioxidant that can protect against heart disease.
Rutin, a bioflavonoid, can support vascular health and may help prevent the spread of cancer. Rutin can help prevent allergies and has anti-inflammatory effect.
Salicylic Acid may have a similar effect as aspirin in the protection against heart disease. A 100-gram serving (about 3 /4 cup) of red raspberries contains around 5 milligrams of salicylic acid.
Ellagic Acid is a compound considered to have potent anti-cancer properties as well as be anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
Lycopene from tomatoes has been found to help prevent prostate cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Vitamin C as an antioxidant that is useful for prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and liver cirrhosis.
Obviously we know that vitamin C is useful for a many number disorders. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of the ways to the measure of antioxidant capacity of berries is called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). Specifically, it measures the degree and length of time it takes to inhibit the action of an oxidizing agent.
So by neutralising free radicals we are preventing diseases.
Cancer: Clinical studies provide strong evidence of the cancer-preventive potential of berries.
The evidence suggest berries have the ability to intervene at all stages of the in the development of cancer.
This is thought to be due to the chemo preventative agents they contain, including flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and phytosterols.
Cardiovascular Health: One study found the constituents of berries; polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, micronutrients and fibre are of benefit in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study, using fresh, juice, freeze dried or purified anthocyanin extract, of chokeberries, cranberries, blueberries or strawberries demonstrated significant improvements in LDL oxidation, lipid peroxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism.
So, not only are colourful berries and other colourful fruits enjoyable to eat, they contain an abundance of health giving phytonutrients to help us fight disease
Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/29/9/1665/2476798
Osiecki H, The Nutrient Bible 9th edition, Bio Concepts Publishing
Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068482/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453014000317 Research progress of natural antioxidants in foods for the treatment of diseases