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.2,6,7
Fruits are one of the largest groups of foods that contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that act like soldiers, security guards and clean-up crew in our bodies, protecting our cells, especially the DNA in our cells. Enough damage to DNA in a cell could possibly allow 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 the body.
Combining berries together are even better than eating them individually. 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, berries can enhance their antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-angiogenic (prevent tumors from forming) properties and help protect your DNA from being damaged by free radicals. They help enhance the production of enzymes that detox the body. They also help enhance your immune system and keep your red blood cells from sticking together too much, which helps prevent unnecessary blood clotting in the arteries and reduces the chances of a stroke or heart attack. They also help keep your bad cholesterol levels down, reducing hypertension/ high blood pressure, and can affect the rate at which hormones are used.3,4,5
Berries can also help kill off H. Pylori, which is a virus that contributes to stomach ulcers and gastritis.
One 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
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 fruits10.
Citrus fruits are among the richest sources of Vitamin C. This vitamin does more than help fight off colds because it’s also a stress reliever, wrinkle reducer, and cancer fighter.
Citrus fruits also contain nutrients called flavonoids, which inhibit cancer cells from being able to invade your healthy body tissues. These flavanoids 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 disease 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 can get even more out of it.
Oranges and Tangerines also 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. Drink about 2 glasses of fresh squeezed citrus juice per day to take full advantage.11 Hesperidin, naringenin and other antioxidants are also 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.
Overall, citrus fruits help in two ways: Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps reduce stress, get rid of wrinkles and helps prevent cancer. The flavonoids help flush out any toxins from the body and can help prevent existing cancer cells from harming you.6
The fruits are listed alphabetically in groups. Click on the links or images below to learn more.
- 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.
- Boyer J, Liu R. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal. May 12, 2004;3:5.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Dr. Oz Show
- The Dr. Oz Show
- ABC News, abcnews.com, Berries good for memory?, located at http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/berries-good-memory-16224035. Accessed April 28, 2012.
- The Dr. Oz Show
- The Dr. Oz Show