IT'S THE BERRIES, SILLY!!

Blueberries - Your Personal Powerhouse

Make Strawberries Your Valentine

Ravishing Raspberries - Heavenly!

Crazy Good Cranberries

If you have ever had the pleasure of picking berries right from a garden or gathering wild berries in the woods, you already know how wonderful fresh berries are. Most berries are naturally sweet and require little effort to prepare. Just rinse them under water and serve for a nutritious snack or dessert.

You can choose many different berries with similar nutrition. The pigments that give berries their beautiful blue and red hues are also good for your health. Berries contain phytochemicals and flavonoids that may help to prevent some forms of cancer. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that may prevent bladder infections. Eating a diet rich in blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries may help to reduce your risk of several types of cancers. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision.

When choosing berries, look for ripe, colorful and firm berries with no sign of mold or mushy spots. Berries can also be found in the frozen section of the grocery store. Once they thaw, they will not be as firm as freshly picked berries, but they are still delicious and good for you. For the freshest berries, try farmers' markets that offer berries harvested that same day. Some berry farms allow you to pick your own berries.

Most berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sweet enough to be served just as they are; however, here are some more ideas:

    Top a bowl of berries with a dollop of light-whipped topping and a sprinkling of chopped pecans or walnuts
    Add strawberry slices to a bowl of whole grain cereal
    Sprinkle blueberries on a salad
    Stir fresh raspberries into vanilla yogurt
    Combine frozen berries with bananas and low-fat milk to make a smoothie
BLUEBERRIES - YOUR PERSONAL POWERHOUSE
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With flavors that range from mildly sweet to tart and tangy, blueberries are nutritional stars bursting with nutrition and flavor while being very low in calories. This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Blueberries provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System.

Blueberries are at their best from May through October when they are in season. Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath family, which includes the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that covers the surface serving as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds.

    HEALTH BENEFITS
    Blueberries are literally bursting with nutrients and flavor, yet very low in calories. Recently, researchers at Tufts University analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability. Blueberries came out on top, rating highest in their capacity to destroy free radicals.

      An Antioxidant Powerhouse
      Packed with antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins, the blue-red pigments found in blueberries, improve the integrity of support structures in the veins and entire vascular system. Anthocyanins have been shown to enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillary integrity, and stabilize the collagen matrix (the ground substance of all body tissues). They work their protective magic by preventing free-radical damage, inhibiting enzymes from cleaving the collagen matrix, and directly cross-linking with collagen fibers to form a more stable collagen matrix.

      Cardioprotective Action
      While wine, particularly red wine, is touted as cardioprotective since it is a good source of antioxidant anthocyanins, a recent study found that blueberries deliver 38% more of these free radical fighters. In this study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers found that a moderate drink (about 4 ounces) of white wine contained .47 mmol of free radical absorbing antioxidants, red wine provided 2.04 mmol, and a wine made from highbush blueberries delivered 2.42 mmol of these protective plant compounds.

      A Visionary Fruit
      Extracts of bilberry (a cousin of blueberry) have been shown in numerous studies to improve nighttime visual acuity and promote quicker adjustment to darkness and faster restoration of visual acuity after exposure to glare. This research was conducted to evaluate claims of bilberry's beneficial effects on night vision made by British Air Force pilots during World War II who regularly consumed bilberry preserves before their night missions.

      Protection against Macular Degeneration
      Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

      In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

      While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but by simply topping off a cup of yogurt or green salad with a half cup of blueberries, tossing a banana into your morning smoothie or slicing it over your cereal, and snacking on an apple, plum, nectarine or pear, you've reached this goal.

      A Better Brain with Blueberries
      In laboratory animal studies, researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Researchers found that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging animals, making them mentally equivalent to much younger ones.

      Promotion of Gastrointestinal Health
      In addition to their powerful anthocyanins, blueberries contain another antioxidant compound called ellagic acid, which blocks metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. In a study of over 1,200 elderly people, those who ate the most strawberries (another berry that contains ellagic acid) were three times less likely to develop cancer than those who ate few or no strawberries. In addition to containing ellagic acid, blueberries are high in the soluble fiber pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and to prevent bile acid from being transformed into a potentially cancer-causing form.

      Protection against Colon Cancer
      Laboratory studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry show that phenolic compounds in blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death). Extracts were made of the blueberry phenols, which were freeze-dried and further separated into phenolic acids, tannins, flavonols, and anthocyanins. Then the dried extracts and fractions were added to cell cultures containing two colon cancer cell lines, HT-29 and Caco-2.

      In concentrations normally found in laboratory animal plasma after eating blueberries, anthyocyanin fractions increased DNA fragmentation (a sign that apoptosis or cell death had been triggered) by 2-7 times. Flavonol and tannin fractions cut cell proliferation in half at concentrations of 70-100 and 50-100 microg/mL, while the phenolic fraction was also effective, but less potent, reducing proliferation by half at concentrations of 1000 microg/mL. Bottomline: eating blueberries may reduce colon cancer risk.

      Protection against Ovarian Cancer
      Among their rich supply of phytonutrients, blueberries include a flavonoid called kaempferol. Research calculating flavonoid intake in 66,940 women enrolled in the Nurses Health Study between 1984 and 2002 revealed that women whose diets provided the most kaempferol had a 40% reduction in risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women eating the least kaempferol-rich foods. In addition to blueberries, foods richest in kaempferol include tea (nonherbal), onions, curly kale, leeks, spinach, and broccoli. A significant 34% reduction in ovarian cancer risk was also seen in women with the highest intake of the flavone luteolin (found in citrus).

      Healthier Elimination
      Blueberries can help relieve both diarrhea and constipation. In addition to soluble and insoluble fiber, blueberries also contain tannins, which act as astringents in the digestive system to reduce inflammation. Blueberries also promote urinary tract health. Blueberries contain the same compounds found in cranberries that help prevent or eliminate urinary tract infections. In order for bacteria to infect, they must first adhere to the mucosal lining of the urethra and bladder. Components found in cranberry and blueberry juice reduce the ability of E. coli, the bacteria that is the most common cause of urinary tract infections, to adhere.

      Description
      Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath (Ericaceae) family whose other members include the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that covers the berry's surface and serves as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds. Cultivated blueberries are typically mildly sweet, while those that grow wild have a more tart and tangy flavor.

      History
      Blueberries are native to North America where they grow throughout the woods and mountainous regions in the United States and Canada. This fruit is rarely found growing in Europe and has only been recently introduced in Australia. There are approximately 30 different species of blueberries with different ones growing throughout various regions. For example, the Highbush variety can be found throughout the Eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida, the Lowbush variety throughout the Northeast and Eastern Canada, and the Evergreen variety throughout states in the Pacific Northwest.

      While blueberries played an important role in North American Indian food culture, being an ingredient in pemmican, a traditional dish composed of the fruit and dried meat, they were not consumed in great amounts by the colonists until the mid-19th century. This seems to be related to the fact that people did not appreciate their tart flavor, and only when sugar became more widely available as a sweetener at this time, did they become more popular. Blueberries were not cultivated until the beginning of the 20th century, becoming commercially available in 1916. Cultivation of blueberries was spearheaded by a botanist at the United States Department of Agriculture who pioneered research into blueberry production. His work was forwarded by Elizabeth White, whose family established the first commercial blueberry fields.

      How to Select and Store
      Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform hue colored with a whitish bloom. Shake the container, noticing whether the berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are soft and damaged or moldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in color or are soft and watery in texture. They should be free from moisture since the presence of water will cause the berries to decay. When purchasing frozen berries, shake the bag gently to ensure that the berries move freely and are not clumped together, which may suggest that they have been thawed and refrozen. Blueberries that are cultivated in the United States are available from May through October while imported berries may be found at other times of the year.

      For the most antioxidants, choose fully ripened berries. Research conducted at the University of Innsbruck in Austria suggests that as fruits fully ripen, almost to the point of spoilage, their antioxidant levels actually increase. Key to the process is the change in color that occurs as fruits ripen, a similar process to that seen in the fall when leaves turn from green to red to yellow to brownó a color change caused by the breakdown and disappearance of chlorophyll, which gives leaves and fruits their green color.

      Ripe blueberries should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for about a week, although they will be freshest if consumed within a few days. Always check berries before storing and remove any damaged berries to prevent the spread of mold. But don't wash berries until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries' skins from degradation. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil. Ripe berries can also be frozen, although this will slightly change their texture and flavor. Before freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. To better ensure uniform texture upon thawing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet or baking pan, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer. Berries should last up to a year in the freezer.

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    MAKE STRAWBERRIES YOUR VALENTINE!
    The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal; it is no wonder they are the most popular berry fruit in the world. Although strawberries have become increasingly available year-round, they are at the peak of their season from April through July when they are the most delicious and most abundant.

    While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has yellow seeds piercing its surface, and the small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. In addition to strawberries that are cultivated, there are also varieties that grow wild. These are much smaller in size, but feature a more intense flavor.

    for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Strawberries can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Strawberries, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

    One cup of strawberries contains over 100 mg of vitamin C, almost as much as a cup of orange juice. We need vitamin C for immune system function and for strong connective tissue. Strawberries also add a bit of calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium and only 53 calories.

    Health Benefits
    Strawberries not only look like a fruity heart-shaped valentine, they are filled with unusual phytonutrients that love to promote your health. The strawberry, a fruit that features a fragrantly sweet flavor, is the most popular type of berry fruit in the world. While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has yellow seeds piercing its surface, and the small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. In addition to strawberries that are cultivated, there are also varieties that grow wild. These are much smaller in size, but feature a more intense flavor.

    Potent Antioxidant Protection from Phenols
    Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich surce of phenols. In the strawberry, these phenols are led by the anthocyanins (especially anthocyanin 2) and by the ellagitannins. The anthocyanins in strawberry not only provide its flush red color, they also serve as potent antioxidants that have repeatedly been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body's organ systems.

    Strawberries' unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberry include the ability of phenols in this fruit to lessen activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase, or COX. Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen block pain by blocking this enzyme, whose overactivity has been shown to contribute to unwanted inflammation, such as that which is involved in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Unlike drugs that are COX-inhibitors, however, strawberries do not cause intestinal bleeding.

    Strawberry Phytonutrients that Promote Optimal Health
    The ellagitannin content of strawberries has actually been associated with decreased rates of cancer death. In one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most linked to lower rates of cancer deaths among a group of over 1,000 elderly people. Those eating the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer compared to those eating few or no strawberries.

    A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed eight strawberry cultivars for their content of protective plant compounds (phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins) and their antioxidant capacities. Although the various cultivars differed significantly in the amounts of the various beneficial compounds each contained, all cultivars (Earliglow, Annapolis, Evangeline, Allstar, Sable, Sparkle, Jewel, and Mesabi) were able to significantly inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells. Interestingly, no relationship was found between a cultivar's antioxidant content and its ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, which suggests that this beneficial effect of strawberries is caused by other actions of their many beneficial compounds.

    Protection against Macular Degeneration
    Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

    In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but strawberries can help you reach this goal. Top your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh strawberries. Dress up any green salad with sliced strawberries, slivered almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar. For an easy, elegant dessert, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with a spoonful of honey and some soy or cow's milk or yogurt. Freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint.

    Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
    While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects and focused on who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and similar subjects who remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

    In terms of traditional nutrients, strawberries emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They also qualified as a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine as well as a good source of potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, and copper.

    The strawberry, like many other perishable fruits at this time, remained a luxury item only enjoyed by the wealthy until the mid-19th century. Once railways were built and more rapid means of transportation established, strawberries were able to be shipped longer distances and were able to be enjoyed by more people. The strawberry is now the most popular berry fruit in the world. Currently, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are among the largest commercial producers of strawberries.

    How to Select and Store
    As strawberries are very perishable, they should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavorful than those that are excessively large. If you are buying strawberries prepackaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly (which may cause them to become crushed and damaged) and that the container has no signs of stains or moisture, indication of possible spoilage. Strawberries are usually available year round, although in greatest abundance from the spring through the mid-summer.

    great care should be taken in their handling and storage. Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any strawberries that are molded or damaged so that they will not contaminate others. Replace unwashed and unhulled berries in their original container or spread them out on a plate covered with a paper towel, then cover with plastic wrap. Strawberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.

    To freeze strawberries, first gently wash them and pat them dry. You can either remove the cap and stem or leave them intact, depending upon what you will do with them once they are thawed. Arrange them in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the berries will help to preserve their color. While strawberries can be frozen whole, cut or crushed, they will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content if left whole. Baby foods containing berries are bereft of anthocyanins, the water-soluble plant pigments responsible not only for the blue, purple, and red color of berries, but also for many of their health benefits.

    Nutritional Profile
    Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine. Plus, strawberries are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and vitamin K. Strawberries also contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagic acid. For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Strawberries. In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Strawberries is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

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    RAVISHING RASPBERRIES---HEAVENLY!
    Fragrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone and almost-melt-in-your-mouth texture, raspberries are wonderfully delicious and are usually in limited supply. Most cultivated varieties of raspberries are grown in California from June through October. A member of the rose family and a bramble fruit like the blackberry, raspberries are delicately structured with a hollow core. Raspberries are known as "aggregate fruits" since they are a compendium of smaller seed-containing fruits, called drupelets, that are arranged around a hollow central cavity.

    This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Raspberries provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Raspberries can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Raspberries, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

    One cup of blueberries offers a smaller amount of vitamin C, minerals and phytochemicals for only 83 calories. The same amount of cranberries is similar, but with only 44 calories, 1 cup of raspberries offers vitamin C and potassium for 64 calories.

    Raspberries can trace a long history dating back to prehistoric times. While wild raspberries are thought to have originated in eastern Asia, there are also varieties that are native to the Western Hemisphere. The seeds of these raspberries were likely to have been carried by travelers or animals that came across the Bering Straight during ancient times.

    The spread of wild raspberries through the world seems to have occurred via similar means. The early hunter-gatherers traveled to far distances to collect food. On their treks back to the villages they would discard what they considered to be inferior quality foods, including the smaller sized raspberries. Thus began the propagation of these plants in other areas.

    Health Benefits
    Red raspberry is most often the source of a dietary supplement sold in many health food stores called ellagic acid. This substance found naturally in raspberries belongs to the family of phytonutrients called tannins, and it is viewed as being responsible for a good portion of the antioxidant activity of this (and other) berries.

    As an antioxidant food containing ellagic acid, raspberries help prevent unwanted damage to cell membranes and other structures in the body by neutralizing free radicals. Ellagic acid is not the only well-researched phytonutrient component of raspberry, however. Raspberry's flavonoid content is also well documented. Here the key substances are quercetin, kaempferol, and the cyanidin-based molecules called cyanidin-3-glucosylrutinoside and cyanidin-3-rutinoside. These flavonoid molecules are also classified as anthocyanins, and they belong to the group of substances that give raspberries their rich red color. Raspberries' anthocyanins also give these delectable berries unique antioxidant properties, as well as some antimicrobial ones, including the ability to prevent overgrowth of certain bacteria and fungi in the body.

    Additionally, research is suggesting that raspberries may have cancer protective properties. Research with animals has suggested that raspberries have have the potential to inhibit cancer cell proliferation and tumor formation in various parts of the body, including the colon.

    : Antioxidants Unique to Raspberries Provide Powerful Protection. Raspberries possess almost 50% higher antioxidant activity than strawberries, three times that of kiwis, and ten times the antioxidant activity of tomatoes, shows research conducted in the Netherlands and published in the journal BioFactors.

    The biggest contribution to raspberries' antioxidant capacity is their ellagitannins, a family of compounds almost exclusive to the raspberry, which are reported to have anti-cancer activity. Vitamin C contributes about 20% of the total antioxidant capacity, accounting for up to 30 milligrams in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of fruit. Raspberries anthocyanins, especially cyanidin and pelagonidin glycosides, make up another 25%. And more good news: freezing and storing raspberries does not significantly affect their antioxidant activity, although in this study, their concentration of vitamin C was halved by the freezing process.

    Plus Vitamin and Mineral Antioxidants In addition to their unique phytonutrient content, raspberries are filled with traditional nutrients, primarily in the antioxidant and B vitamin categories. Raspberries emerged from our nutrient ranking system as an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, two critical antioxidant nutrients that help protect the body's tissue from oxygen-related damage. They also qualified as a good source of riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and copper. Coupled with this strong B vitamin and mineral content, raspberries qualified as "excellent" in terms of dietary fiber. This combination of nutrients makes raspberries a great fruit choice for having minimal impact on blood sugars.

    Promote Optimal Health
    Research published in Cancer Letters provides one reason why diets high in fruit help prevent cancer: raspberries, blackberries and muscadine grapes inhibit metalloproteinase enzymes. Although essential for the development and remodeling of tissues, if produced in abnormally high amounts, these enzymes play a significant role in cancer development by providing a mechanism for its invasion and spread.

    Protection against Macular Degeneration
    Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

    As raspberries are highly perishable, they should only be purchased one or two days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump and deep in color, while avoiding those that are soft, mushy or moldy. If you are buying berries prepackaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly, since this may cause them to become crushed and damaged, and that the container has no signs of stains or moisture, indication of possible spoilage. Raspberries are generally available from midsummer through early fall. Raspberries are one of the most perishable fruits, so extreme care should be taken in their storage. Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any berries that are molded or spoiled so that they will not contaminate the others. Place the unwashed berries back in their original container or spread them out on a plate lined with a paper towel, then cover the plate with plastic wrap. Raspberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Make sure not to leave raspberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.

    Raspberries freeze very well. Wash them gently using the low pressure of the sink sprayer so that they will maintain their delicate shape and then pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange them in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the raspberries will help to preserve their color.

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    CRAZY GOOD CRANBERRIES
    Scientists have been studying the health benefits of cranberries for many years. One of the now best known benefits of cranberry juice is for the prevention and relief of urinary tract infections, but many other possibilities exist. Compounds in the juice can actually alter antibiotic-resistant strains, making it impossible for the harmful bacteria to trigger an infection. A small pilot study from Harvard Medical School and Rutgers University found that eating about 1/3 cup of dried cranberries yielded the same effect.

    Help prevent strokes
    Research on pigs with a genetic predisposition to atherosclerosis--narrow, hardened arteries that may lead to heart attack and stroke--found that those fed dried cranberries or juice every day had healthier, more flexible blood vessels. Research studies are on-going in the areas of cancer treatment and prevention, high blood pressure and diabetes control, as well as the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

    Here we look at some of the research related to the health benefits of cranberries and how they can easily be incorporated into your daily diet. Starting in 1959, a large number of studies were published concerning the benefits of cranberry juice for its anti-bacterial action. As early as 1962, doctors began describing the benefits of cranberry juice for the treatment of urinary tract infections.

    Now, forty-five years later, some people are still unaware of the benefits of cranberry juice and continue to suffer with recurrent infections of this type. The most recent study, published in January of 2007, concludes that regular consumption of cranberry products may offer an alternative to the frequent use of prescription antibiotics. Over the years, the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in "antibiotic resistant bacteria", just one reason that alternatives are important.

    The health benefits of cranberries do not end with urinary tract infections. Much of the recent research is related to peridontal gum disease. It is known that something in cranberries prevents bacteria from clinging to the walls of the urinary tract. It appears that something else, or the same something -- researchers are not sure -- prevents plaque from clinging to the teeth and gums. It is possible that this effect may also prevent plaque from forming on the arterial walls, the primary cause of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), coronary thrombosis (blood clot in the vessels leading to the heart), and stroke.

    Other health benefits of cranberries are related to their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is involved in many chronic and life threatening diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and most types of cancer. One of the most "written about" health benefits of cranberries relates to the possible prevention of prostate cancer, but laboratory studies have demonstrated that extracts from the cranberry inhibit the growth and spread of breast, colon, lung and other cancerous tumors, as well.

    Not everyone likes the tart taste of cranberries, which is probably one reason that years of research have gone into isolating the "active components". Trying to answer the question, "What is the one thing in cranberries that kills cancer cells, prevents plaques from clinging to parts of the human body and reduces inflammation?" Many experts have come to the conclusion that it may not be a single compound, but a group or groups of compounds that provide the health benefits of cranberries.

    Cranberries and other fruits, vegetables and grains fall into a category often referred to as "plant foods". They contain a number of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, probiotics, polyphenols, flavonoids, fiber and other components, possibly some that have yet been named. It seems that groups of these components work together and rely on each other to effectively nourish the cells of the body and protect human health. It has long been known that certain vitamins and minerals work best when taken in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals. Some nutrients cannot be absorbed by the body, without the help of other nutrients. So, even though cranberries contain vitamin C (for example), taking vitamin C will probably not provide all of the health benefits associated with cranberries.

    The benefits of cranberry juice may be outnumbered by the benefits of cranberries in raw form. Sugar, preservatives and other additives are present in cranberry juice. Whole food supplements do not contain these additives. So, if you want the health benefits of cranberries and other plant foods, but cannot take the time to eat them everyday, whole food supplements, which we take, may be your answer.

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