Fruits

 

AbbieImages / istockphoto

Evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer.1 It has been estimated that a healthy diet could prevent 30-60% of all cancers. Not only may a diet high in fruits and vegetables help prevent heart disease and cancer, but it may also help protect against a variety of other illnesses like cataracts, diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and Asthma.2,5,7

Fruits are one of the largest groups of foods containing powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that act much like soldiers, security guards and clean-up crew in our bodies. They protect our cells, especially, the DNA in our cells from getting damaged by free radicals. Enough damage to DNA in a cell may cause it to go rogue and turn into a cancerous cell, which is one of the reasons why we need to eat as healthy as we can to help prevent not only cancer, but all kinds of diseases both mild and deadly ones from harming our body.

 

RandyHarris / istockphoto

Berries

A large study recently conducted on women shows that berries, specifically Strawberries and Blueberries, can help improve your memory. The women who did best on the tests were eating about 1 cup of strawberries per week or ½ cup of blueberries per week. The study showed that the berries may have helped slow their memory loss down by about 2 years.8

Berries can also help kill off H. Pylori, which is a virus that contributes to stomach ulcers and gastritis.
 

The Sum of the Whole is Greater than its Parts

This synergistic effect is exactly what happens when you combine different berries together. Some studies have shown that a combination of berries had even stronger health benefits than eating each of them individually. So, instead of just doing their own thing, they team up and enhance each other. Working together, they can enhance their antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-angiogenic (prevent tumors from forming) properties and help protect your cells and especially your DNA from being damaged by free radicals. Berries help enhance the production of enzymes that detox the body. They can also enhance your immune system and keep your red blood cells from sticking together too often, which helps to prevent unnecessary blood clotting in your arteries and reduces your chances of having a stroke or heart attack. They also help keep your LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy cholesterol) levels down, which can reducing hypertension/ high blood pressure, and can affect the rate at which hormones are used.3,4,5

Some berries like Blueberries also contain a polyphenol called resveratrol, which is also found in Grapes. Resveratrol has been shown to help fight off the physical effects of aging and helps calm down chronic inflammation especially in the heart. Resveratrol is beneficial because it can reduce the risks of cancer by slowing or even stopping angiogenesis even at concentrations that you can get by simply eating the fruits. 10
 

Jennifer Chait / Flickr

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are among the richest sources of Vitamin C. This vitamin does more than help fight off colds because it’s also a cancer fighter, stress reducer and powerful antioxidant.

Citrus fruits contain nutrients called flavonoids, which inhibit cancer cells from being able to invade your healthy body tissues. These flavonoids also help dilate your lymphs. Your lymph system is responsible for clearing toxins from your body and can help boost your immune system. When your lymphs are dilated, they are more effective at flushing out more toxins from your body so eating these fruits can be very beneficial for you even when you’re not sick. This is a great example of preventive medicine because you’re helping to fortify your body against all kinds of diseases including cancer.

Many of these flavonoids are found inside the peel of citrus fruits and not so much in the fleshy part we usually eat so by adding a little orange or lemon zest to your salad or tea, you access a treasure trove of antioxidants that you would otherwise throw away. These antioxidants exist solely in the peels because the fruit needs sunlight to produce them and they tend not to like water, which the fleshy part of the fruit is full of. These antioxidants are also largely responsible for a citrus fruits’ scent and they are the essential oils of the fruit. For example, the oil from the peels of bergamot oranges are used to flavor dried tea leaves, making Earl Grey tea. The oil from oranges are also used as an ingredient in disinfectants or cleaners.

Oranges and Tangerines contain two types of antioxidants called hesperidin and naringenin, which can help reduce the risk of esophageal cancer. One very large study done showed that people who drank fresh squeezed citrus fruits like tangerines had a 42% reduced risk of developing esophageal cancer so drink about 2 glasses of fresh squeezed citrus juice per day to take full advantage.11 Hesperidin, naringenin and other antioxidants are also found almost exclusively in the peel of the fruit so use a zester tool to grate down the peel and use it in salads, teas or whatever food you like to get the extra health benefits. It would be better to use organic fruits if you are worried about pesticides or other contaminants possibly getting into your food.

So, citrus fruits help in two ways: The vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cancer cells from forming, as well as reduce your stress levels and help defend against a wide variety of diseases. The flavonoids help flush out toxins from the body and provide you with plenty of vitamins and minerals to help keep you healthy. 7

The fruits are listed alphabetically in groups. Click on the links or images to learn more.

 

 

Cranberries

Acai  –  Durian

.

figs

Elderberry  –  Huckleberries

.

Lemon

Jackfruit  –  Mulberries

.

Pineapples

Nectarines  –  Prunes

.

Sea Buckthorn

Quince  –  Watermelon

 

 

References
  1. Sun J, Chu Y, Wu X, Liu R. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common fruits. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry. December 4, 2002;50(25):7449-7454.
  2. Boyer J, Liu R. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal. May 12, 2004;3:5.
  3. Zafra-Stone S, Yasmin T, Bagchi M, Chatterjee A, Vinson J, Bagchi D. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. June 2007;51(6):675-683.
  4. Chatterjee A, Yasmin T, Bagchi D, Stohs S. Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori in vitro by various berry extracts, with enhanced susceptibility to clarithromycin. Molecular And Cellular Biochemistry. October 2004;265(1-2):19-26.
  5. Seeram N. Berry fruits: compositional elements, biochemical activities, and the impact of their intake on human health, performance, and disease. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry. February 13, 2008;56(3):627-629
  6. The Dr. Oz Show
  7. The Dr. Oz Show
  8. ABC News, abcnews.com, Berries good for memory?, located at http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/berries-good-memory-16224035.
  9. The Dr. Oz Show
  10. The Dr. Oz Show
  11. Boyer J, Liu R. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal. May 12, 2004;3:5.

Leave a Reply