Why You Should Eat Way More Berries

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Last July 6, 2018, originally published February 16, 2015
By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist  

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

By now, most of us know that eating berries can help keep
us healthy. Berries are rich in anti-oxidants, which slow
aging and boost our immune systems. Berries also are, by
reputation, one of the best anti-cancer foods around. But,
until recently, scientists were sure which compounds in
berries did the trick. Many strongly suspected that the
anthocyanins were the key to berries powerful properties.
New research has turned the microscopes in another
direction ---toward ellagic acid. Berries are among nature's
richest sources of this special acid.

Ellagic acid, it turns out, may be something of a miracle
compound,  a magic bullet. At least, that's what some
scientists believe. Others, such as the American Cancer
Society, are not yet convinced.  But, in the few studies
which have been done, the acid does appear to slow the
proliferation of certain kinds of cancers, such as lung
cancer and breast cancer.

Whether you wait until more studies are done before
believing the specific effects of ellagic acid, berries contain
other anti-oxidants with proven health benefits.

Here are a handful of the best reasons you should put way
more  berries in your diet this year:

Berries May Prevent Breast Tumors

A study from the University of Louisville discovered that
ellagic acid in berries suppresses the formation of  
mammary tumors.  How do berries accomplish this?
Scientists don't have the exact answer but they have a
hunch that berries alter the way that estrogen is
metabolized in your body.

Researchers have long known that a particular hormone –
17 beta estradiol-- puts women at particularly high danger
for developing breast cancer.  Eating berries apparently
suppresses this dangerous form of estradiol.

Black raspberries and blueberries are rich in anthocyanins
and ellagic acid –both compounds thought to   provide
protection against cancer tumor growth. Black raspberries
are especially rich in these compounds.

Berries Help Prevent Deterioration of Your Brain

The technical term for brain decline is “neuro-
degenerative”. Berries have anti neuro-degenerative
properties, several studies have found.  For example, a
2012 Harvard Medical School study found that eating
strawberries or blueberries can slow cognitive decline by
up to 2.5 years.

Certain Berries Cut Your Heart Attack Risk by 33%

Eating strawberries can cut your heart attack risk by 33%,
according  to a 2013 study from Harvard School of Public
Health.  Aim to eat strawberries or blueberries at least 3
times a week for optimal heart protection.
[Update: Red
grapes are cut your risk of death from heart disease, by as
much as two-fold to three-fold

Black Raspberries Can Prevent Oral Cancers

Scientists tend not to make flat statements, often cautiously
hedging their predictions. Yet, when scientists at Ohio State
University tested the ability of black raspberries to prevent
oral cancers in 2002, they were so astounded that they
declared “These experiments support previous studies from
our laboratories showing the chemopreventive activity of
black raspberries and show, for the first time, that dietary
black raspberries will inhibit tumor formation in the oral

Black Elderberries Help Prevent the Flu

Elderberries have proven anti-viral properties which
scientists have found help prevent the flu.

A comprehensive list of berries with proven anticancer or
other health benefits include:

blackberry ( Rubus spp.),
black raspberry ( Rubus occidentalis),
blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosum),
cranberry (i.e., the American cranberry, Vaccinium
European cranberry, V. oxycoccus),
red raspberry ( Rubus idaeus) and
strawberry ( Fragaria x ananassa).
chokecherry ( Prunus virginiana),
highbush cranberry ( Viburnum trilobum),
serviceberry ( Amelanchier alnifolia),
silver buffaloberry ( Shepherdia argentea),
arctic bramble ( Rubus articus),
bilberries ( Vaccinuim myrtillus or ” bog whortleberries,
black currant ( Ribes nigrum),
boysenberries ( Rubus spp.),
cloudberries ( Rubus chamaemorus),
crowberries ( Empetrum nigrum, E. hermaphroditum),
elderberries ( Sambucus spp.),
gooseberry ( Ribes uva-crispa),
lingonberries ( Vaccinium vitis-idaea),
loganberry ( Rubus loganobaccus),
marionberries ( Rubus spp.),
Rowan berries ( Sorbus spp.),
sea buckthorn ( Hippophae rhamnoides),
pomegranate ( Punica granatum),
goji berries ( Lycium barbarum; “wolfberry”),
mangosteen ( Garcinia mangostana),
Brazilian açaí berry ( Euterpe oleraceae),
Chilean maqui berry ( Aristotelia chilensis).

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