Another start of a new Series!
“Let food be thy medicine”. This could probably be my motto in life. Unfortunately, many people in the health industry do not full understand the importance of proper nutrition.
If your body lacks micronutrients, before taking any pills, change your nutrition. If you are eating the right foods and are still deficient, then it is time to supplement.
Today, I would like to turn the spotlight on Berries.
Anthocyanins are the antioxidant pigments that give berries their special shades of color – blue, purple, and red. They are one of the main phytonutrients that are responsible for berries’ health-supportive properties.
Health Benefits of Berries
Full of Fiber
Berries might taste sweet but they are actually very low in sugar and high in fiber. Fibrous foods help to fill your stomach much more quickly. This is a signal for your body that you have eaten enough, thus the hunger depressing hormone Leptin is released. Berries are also great to have as a dessert, when you would otherwise crave foods much higher in sugar.
Antioxidants Protect your Body
All berries contain a high amount of Antioxidants.
These are small molecules inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals, which are involved in the development of cancer. Free radicals can not only damage but also lead to changes in the DNA of our cells. Thus, mitosis increases rapidly and cell growth is out of control. Antioxidants such in berries find those free radicals, bind and neutralize them.
These antioxidant-based protective effects have been shown in virtually every body system. For example, there is evidence that berries reduce oxidative stress in older adults at risk of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as in younger healthy adults and middle-aged obese adults.
Furthermore, antioxidant protection of the blood sugar regulatory system, cardiovascular system, digestive tract has been demonstrated in studies. Especially blueberries, containing the highest amount of Anthocyanin, an effective antioxidant, seem to have a protective effect for the whole body.
This explains the Anti-Cancer Benefits of Berries. The development of cancer is directly linked to high oxidative stress and mutation of the DNA in our cells. For example, it has been shown that the consumption of berries reduces the risk of intestine cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer.
Antioxidants decrease inflammation too. Thus, berries can help to improve conditions for patients with rheumatic diseases, Arthritis, auto-immune diseases and prevent illness.
James Joseph, PhD, director of the Neuroscience Lab at the United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, notes that people become more susceptible to the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation as they age. Berries help prevent those effects by turning off the inflammation signals triggered by cytokines and COX-2s, he says, making them an ideal part of your diet.
Again, various studies have shown that especially blueberries improve blood fat balances, including reduction in total cholesterol, raising of HDL cholesterol, and lowering of triglycerides. HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind that you want to be high, where as LDL is the “bad” kind of cholesterol, which many patients fight with.
As a matter of fact, the antioxidant protective effect reduce oxidation of blood components (like LDL), which reduces the risk of clogging of the blood vessels. This protection has also been shown for the cells lining the blood vessel walls.
Recent studies indicate that the consumption of berries may increase the release of an enzyme, called nitric oxide synthetase (NOS). The endogeny type of this enzyme, eNOS, has been shown to improve cardiovascular functions.
Lastly, in both men and women, the intake of berries has supported healthy blood pressure. It does not matter if you have high or low blood pressure, in both cases berries seem to have a balancing effect.
Reduce Risk of Heart Attacks
A recent study in the journal Circulation suggests sprinkling a few more blueberries in your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie, may help reduce heart attack risk.
Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Research on blood sugar balance and berry intake has been conducted on individuals who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or insulin resistance. They have shown that berries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with blood sugar problems. Berries are low in terms of Glycemic Index (GI). This means that they do not trigger a high release of Insulin. Low GI is considered any food that scores under 50 on the GI scale.
Just as a reference, berries score between 30-45, while a piece of white bread has a GI of >70 (highest on the scale).
The retina in our eyes is at a higher risk of oxidative stress than most other places in our body. Oxidative stress in the retina leads to death of receptors and important cells that lead information to our opticus nerve. Foods high in phytonutrients have a protective effect of oxidation in the retina in general. As berries, especially blueberries, are high in Phytonutrients, they have proven to reduce damage to our retina through free radicals.
According to a research, published in the Annals of Neurology, Berries can help reduce mental decline. In the study, researchers reviewed data from 16,010 women over age 70. Those with the highest berry intake postponed cognitive decline by about two and a half years. This might be related to the flavonoid anthocyanin, according to study author Elizabeth Devore, ScD. It effects the memory centers in the brain and improves learning processes.
Another study, published in the journal Neurology, found out that people who eat 2 servings of berries a week have 25 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Again, the flavonoids in the berries are responsible for this.
It is scientifically proven that the accumulation of toxic end products of metabolic pathways in the brain leads to the development of Alzheimer’s. The antioxidants in berries, especially the polyphenols, help to neutralize free radicals and flush out the toxic end products before they can reach your brain.
Which Berry is the Best?
They contain more Vitamin C than a whole orange and are high in folic acid.
They contain the highest amount of anthocyanin, which I already mentioned above. Blueberries contain 20 different types of this flavonoid. Thus, blueberries improve the most cardiovascular and eye health.
There is 8 grams of fiber in one cup. Thus, these are perfect if you would like to lose weight but don’t want to starve yourself.
Also, blackberries are rich in vitamin C and contain a bit of iron, calcium, and vitamin A, too.
These are natural probiotics, which means that they support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and aid in digestion. Also, they inhibit Escherischia coli, a bacteria which can cause many infections, from sticking to cells of the urinary tract.
If you are looking for natural ways to improve your view, heart health, blood flow, balance your blood sugar and lose some weight without craving sugary foods, you should include berries in your nutrition.
As a side note: In recent studies, it has been shown that freezing does not lower the nutritional value of berries. Thus, you do not need to buy fresh berries. I like to use the freeze-type berries for smoothies or for baking and snack on the fresh ones.
There are many different delicious recipes containing berries. You can never get bored! Add some protein, for example greek yoghurt and some healthy fats, like dark chocolate or nuts, and you have your perfect dessert or snack!
This concludes today’s post. I enjoyed writing this, I hope you liked it!
As you know, I always favor explaining why something has health benefits. In my opinion, it is not enough to claim “Eat berries”. You do not need to be a scientist to understand the human body.
Knowing some basic human physiology comes in handy: You can impress your doctor and it has been proven that the psychological effects play a great role in healing processes.
Do you include berries in your nutrition?
If not, I hope you will after reading this article 😉
As always, comment and share if you liked this.
Wish you all a wonderful day!
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