It The Berries!
Patricia Zifferblatt |
May 15, 2007
Good news for
everyone with the aches and pains of arthritis: getting help is delicious.
Just eat your berries! Raspberries, sweet cherries, strawberries, and
blueberries contain a powerful antioxidant known as anthocyanin, a compound
with anti-inflammatory properties that can ease or stop the aches and pains
of arthritis and even gout.
You’ve probably heard the old “5 a Day” slogan or the new one: “Fruits &
Veggies--More Matters.” And maybe you know that the superstars of the fruit
family are berries, the bright-colored, sweet-tasting, health protectors
that may help the body fight certain cancers, heart disease, and delay the
aging process. Why? Because berries contain powerful phytochemical
antioxidants, including flavonoids, ellagic acid, quercitin, and
anthocyanins. Whew! That was a mouthful!
So let’s start at the beginning. What are these tongue twisters in berries
that make them so great?
Phytochemicals are chemicals found only in plant material;
they can help promote health and prevent chronic diseases.
Antioxidants are the chemicals found in plant material that
when eaten, provide a defensive army to go after free radicals. Free
radicals are unstable molecules that can cause oxidation, a process that can
attack any cell in the body in an effort to become stable, causing disease
and aging. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, thereby preventing or
delaying cell damage and oxidation.
Flavonoids are phytochemicals and strong antioxidants that
can help to destroy free radicals. We can thank flavonoid compounds for the
beneficial effects of fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate, tea, and red wine.
Studies suggest that flavonoids may reduce the risk of coronary heart
disease in postmenopausal women, as well as lower the risk of ischemic
stroke and some cancers.
Ellagic acid is a phytochemical that helps defend the body
against cancer and is found in raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
Quercitin is a flavonol found abundantly in berries and is
associated with protection against colon, breast, ovarian, and
Anthocyanins (from the Greek words for “blue flower”) are a
part of the flavonoid family and are found in fruits characterized by bright
colors, such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Anthocyanins
are free-radical scavengers and antioxidants that can help battle vascular
disease, bacteria, viral infections, cancer, allergies, and inflammation.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve just completed Berries 101. And we at
Better Life hope that after reading this information, you take a look at
your plate and in your refrigerator and see how many of these foods you’re
eating every day. (And if you’re not eating enough berries, let’s hope
you’re supplementing with a high-grade product that contains lots of
Especially if you’ve got arthritis, go after the berries--fresh or frozen,
they’re all good. Here’s looking at you and your berry-good Better Life!