Inflammation--Give 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 gastrointestinal cancer.

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 phytochemicals.)

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!
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