berries – Healthy superfoods – by Dr. Nuwanthi Fernando
Berries are everyone’s favorite, and they boast of being among the healthiest food on earth. They are delicious, nutritious and also provide a number of impressive health benefits. The family of berries includes strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and the other berries that are available. What makes berries so nutritious and highly beneficial is the number of phytochemicals that are present in these small fruits. Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants and adding them to your diet will benefit overall health in a significant manner.
Let us now see how berries can benefit your health;
Berries contain folic acid, which is involved in the production of serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone. Serotonin does not only make you happy but also relieves the stress level in the body. It is also known that these fruits are responsible for preventing depression, which has already created an epidemic in the modern world.
Many conditions in the brain are thought to be due to the free radical damage caused to the nerves. While berries are rich in anti-oxidants, the free radicals can be well neutralized preventing any damages. According to research published in the Annals of Neurology, women who eat almost 2 servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries each week experienced a lower cognitive decline than the ones who did not. The scientists believed that this was achieved by certain nutrients known as anthocyanidins that are packed in berries.
Berries and anti-aging effect
Berries are packed with a high dose of vitamins and mineral. The vitamins packed in the berries act as antioxidants. The high dose of vitamin C in the berries gives them a robust antioxidant power. These antioxidants remove the free radical molecules that are produced in the body. Free radicals are the result of normal cell metabolism. However, their accumulation in the body is one of the primary reasons for aging. The antioxidants not only remove the aging-inducing-free radicals but also supplies the skin with nutrients. These nutrients supplies enrich and strengthen the core of the skin and thus, help to retain the anti-aging effect permanently.
Berries and heart health
Berries are packed with unique components which are highly useful in protecting the heart health. The major components are
- Quercetin – This substance reduces inflammatory processes and improves heart rate.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is responsible for maintaining collagen, which protects the health of blood vessels, heart, and joints. In addition, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, slowing the aging process of the body including the effect of aging on the heart.
- Anthocyanins – The berries have a bright color due to this potent antioxidant. This substance helps to strengthen the muscles, including the heart muscle, so it is highly appreciated by medical specialists, and they recommend eating berries in any form.
The above components of the berries are also can also protect the blood vessels from cholesterol deposits and remove any inflammatory process that presents in the blood vessels. This is highly important to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Prevention of Parkinson’s Disease
People who ate berries at least twice a week are much less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, which is so often seen in old people. Research published in the neurology journal shows that the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease reduces by more than 25% in men, consuming only two handfuls of any berries a day, fresh, dry or frozen. The same study showed that men whose diet includes a sufficient number of flavonoids (berries are packed with flavonoids) reduce the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease by 40%.
Fighting against cancer
Although there is still no cure for cancer, studies are being conducted around the world in various directions. There is a hope that it is berries that once will bring physicians and chemists to the path of recovery of anti-cancer medications. Already it is proved that flavonoids contained in blueberries and raspberries reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. In addition, berries are also packed with a special compound called rutin. Rutin is a bioflavonoid that helps to prevent the proliferation of cancer-related cells.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease
The antioxidant property of berries helps in the battle against age-related brain changes or senile dementia, and thus, berries fight against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A study specifically showed that the polyphenols extracted from berries aid in the preventing Alzheimer’s disease. This is possible by the ability of polyphenols to purify cells from the destructive accumulation of toxins over time.