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Functional Food Super Hero #5 -Berries

1603024_TSF_FBPost3What a delightful wee gift from Mother Nature are berries. Delivered in many colours, shapes and sizes, there is barely a person on earth who won’t appreciate a juicy, sweet berry mouth party.

And they pack some serious nutritional punch.

Being low GI and low in fructose, berries are a popular choice for those needing to reduce overall sugar intake.

Most importantly, various berries have an array of superpowers, helping you to feel and look tip-top.

Load the anti-oxidants

Regular berry consumption will provide you with extraordinary anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory clout, countering damage to cells, dampening inflammation, and minimising the impacts of ageing.

This is due to their remarkable oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), from being packed to the rafters with phytoconstituents such as anthocyanin, quercetin, resveratrol and ellagic acid.

Here is what the berry can do for you:

Boost the brain- Anthocyanins (especially high in blueberries):
Have been found to cross the blood-brain barrier, to exert positive effects on the memory and learning areas of the brain, improving memory of older adults. (1) In fact, the Nurses Health Study found consistent consumption of blueberries and strawberries slowed cognitive decline by two years! (2)

Support the heart
A ½ cup of berries has been shown to lower blood pressure. Berries, specifically strawberries and strawberry-rich anthocyanin supplementation, have been shown to improve cardiovascular risk factors, including exerting anti-platelet activity, implicated in blood clots and hardening of the arteries. (3-5)

See clearly
A randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial showed 15 goji berries a day for three months, loaded with carotenoid zeaxanthin, prevented factors contributing to age-related macular degeneration. (6) Apparently, blueberries have a similar impact.

Avoid cancer
Various constituents within berries, such as raspberries, are highly immune supportive. This includes ellagic acid, which is thought to protect DNA from mutation and assist in detoxification and may support the body preventing cancer cell formation. Berries, such as cranberries, also contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Fight ageing
Berries are LOADED with vitamin C, integral to collagen formation and renowned for serious anti-oxidant activity – making berries a seriously super skin food.

Get berried!

Berries are also a great source of fibre and folate, both essential to digestive and neurological health (among many other things!).

If out of season, tuck into frozen berries, and eat organic, if possible.

Enjoy some berry merriment with these fine (and ever so simple) creations:

  • Plain Greek yoghurt with berries, vanilla and cinnamon
  • Warmed, and served on a nut/buckwheat/coconut flour short cut pastry or crumble, with a dollop of coconut cream
  • Fresh lunchtime salad of avocado and strawberries, or sliced strawberries with rocket, pine nuts and parmesan
  • Summer lovin’ homemade ice block
  • Added to porridge, smoothies or a handful on their own as an afternoon snack.

By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med)

 

References:

  1. Krikorian, R, Shidler, MD, Nash, TA, Kalt, W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk, MR, Shukitt-Hale, B, & Joseph, JA 2010, ‘Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults’, Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, vol. 58, no. 7, pp. 3996-4000
  2. Devore, EE, Kang, JH, Breteler, MB, & Grodstein, F 2012, ‘Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline’, Annals Of Neurology, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 135-143
  3. Alvarez-Suarez, JM, Giampieri, F, Tulipani, S, Casoli, T, Di Stefano, G, González-Paramás, AM, Santos-Buelga, C, Busco, F, Quiles, JL, Cordero, MD, Bompadre, S, Mezzetti, B, & Battino, M 2014, ‘Research article: One-month strawberry-rich anthocyanin supplementation ameliorates cardiovascular risk, oxidative stress markers and platelet activation in humans’,The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, vol. 25, pp. 289-294
  4. Erlund, I, Koli, R, Alfthan, G, Marniemi, J, Puukka, P, Mustonen, P, Mattila, P, & Jula, A 2008, ‘Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol’, The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, no. 2, pp. 323-331.
  5. von Hundelshausen, P, & Schmitt, MN 2014, ‘Platelets and their chemokines in atherosclerosis—clinical applications’,Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 5, pp. 1-17
  6. Bucheli, P Vidal, K Shen, L Gu, Z Zhang, C Miller, LE Wang, J 2011, Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. vol. 88, no. 2, pp. 257 – 262.
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