Health Benefits Of Berries | Amazing Facts About Berries
Berries evolved to have bright, contrasting colours to attract fruit eating critters to help disperse their seeds. And the same molecular characteristics that give berries such vibrant colour may account for some of their antioxidants abilities.
People nowadays eat a lot of pale and beige foods; white bread, white pasta, white potatoes, white rice. Colourful foods are often healthier because they contain antioxidants pigments, whether its beta carotene that makes carrot orange. The lycopene antioxidant that makes tomatoes looks red. Berries can be classified into various types as barberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, concord grapes, cranberries, goji berries, mulberries, raspberries and strawberries.
Treasure house of antioxidants
A free radical is a highly energetic, unstable molecule which when come in contact with DNA can lead to damage to the genes and lead to DNA mutations which can ultimately leads to cancer, ageing and other hazardous consequences. Factors that increase the production of free radicals in the body can be internal, such as inflammation, or external, such as pollution, UV exposure and cigarette smoke. If the body doesn’t remove or process the free radicals properly, oxidative stress can occur. Oxidative stress is linked with heart diseases, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and other inflammatory and ischemic conditions.
In order to slow down this process, anti- oxidants come in play. Anti- oxidants prevents or slows down the damage to cells caused by free radicals. Various anti- oxidants are beta- carotene, lutein, selenium, manganese and zeaxanthins. Flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols and phytoestrogens are all types of anti- oxidants and phytonutrients and all of them are found in plant based foods.
Antioxidant content in berries is very high as they are second only to herbs and spices as the most antioxidants – packed food category. One of the most consumed fruits is apple and banana with antioxidants power of about 60 units and 40 units respectively. Mangoes, the preferred fruit all over the world, have even more antioxidant punch at around 110 units. But none of these fruits are a match for berries. Strawberries weight in at 310 units per 120 grams, cranberries at 330 units, raspberries at 350 units, and blueberries at 380 units and blackberries at whopping 650 units. Therefore we can say that consuming a serving of berries on daily basis can fulfil your antioxidants needs for the day.
May help to cure diabetes
Diabetes is characterized by chronically elevated levels of sugar in blood. This is because either the pancreas isn’t making enough insulin (the hormone that keeps the blood sugar in control) or your body is resistant to insulin’s effect. The insulin deficiency disease is called type 1 diabetes. Whereas the insulin- resistant disease is called type 2 diabetes. If too much sugar is present in blood stream it can overwhelm the kidneys and spill into your urine. Type 2 diabetes has been called “black death” of the twenty first century in terms of its exponential spread around the world.
The digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates we eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which is primary source of energy of all the cells in body. To get from the bloodstream to the cells it requires insulin. Without insulin the cells can’t absorb the glucose, as a result glucose starts building in the bloodstream. Over extended period of time this extra glucose can damage the blood vessels throughout the body which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.
High blood sugar can lead to a medical condition called neuropathy that can cause numbness, tingling and pain. The healing process also gets delayed due to the damage caused to blood vessels.
Consuming sugar in fruit form is not only harmless but actually helpful. Eating berries can blunt the insulin spike from high- glycemic foods like bread, for example. This may be because the fiber in fruit has a gelling effect in your stomach and small intestine that slows the release of sugars or because of certain phytonutrient in fruit that appears to block the absorption of sugar through the gut wall and into your bloodstream. So eating fructose the way nature intended carries benefits rather than risks.
High fiber content present in berries can help you to prevent and cure this serious issue as high fiber content doesn’t allow the insulin to spike and stabilizes the blood sugar levels.
May helps to prevent cancer
Cancer is fatal disease that is afflicting the modern day’s humans due to drastic change in lifestyle changes, pollution, pesticides, stress and adulteration in food items. Cancer is basically caused when humans are exposed to carcinogens (substances that cause cancer). A carcinogen is basically a chemical substance that can be found in environmental agents, viral or genetic factors.
Cancer risk factors includes biological or internal factors, environmental exposure (UV rays), occupational risk factors like exposure to chemicals, radioactive materials, lifestyle factors like consumption of tobacco, alcohol, nitrites and polyaromatic hydrocarbon(barbecuing food). Some drugs even can increase the risk of cancer like antineoplastic agents, certain hormones and medicines that causes immune deficiency.
Oesophageal cancer joins pancreatic cancer as one of the gravest diagnoses imaginable. The five- year survival rate is less than 20 per cent, with most people dying within the first year after reverse the disease process as early as possible.
Researches decided to put berries to test. In a randomized clinical trial of powdered strawberries in patients with precancerous lesions in their oesophagus, subjects ate one to two ounces of freeze- dried strawberries everyday for about six months.
All of the study participants started out with either mild or moderate precancerous disease, but, amazingly, the progression of the disease was reversed in about 80% of the patients in high dose strawberry group. Most of these precancerous lesions either regressed from the moderate to mild or disappeared entirely. Half of those on the high- dose strawberry treatment walked away disease- free.
May Boosts immune system and reduce inflammation
The immune system, apart from the nervous system is the most complex organ system of our body. Immune system protects the body from foreign invaders like pathogens. It is composed of various organs like white blood cells and proteins called antibodies that form alliance against trespassing pathogens threatening the body.
The inflammatory properties and antioxidants present in berries boosts the immune system and protect the body from ill effects of pathogens. For disease prevention, berries of all colours have “emerged as champions” according to the head of the bioactive botanical research laboratory. The purported anticancer properties of berry compounds have been attributed to their apparent ability to counteract, reduce and repair damage resulting from the oxidative stress and inflammation. But it was not known until recently that berries may also boosts your level of natural killer cells.
In one study, researchers asked athletes to eat about 180 grams of blueberries every day for six weeks to see if the berries could reduce the oxidative stress caused by long distance running. The athletes consuming blueberries actually doubled their killer cells counts, to more than four billion.