Blueberries have been called a "superfood" and an "antioxidant powerhouse". Why do these and other berries get so much attention when it comes to cancer and disease fighting?
It all comes back to the phytochemicals! One of my first posts was on the plant chemicals that are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Usually the more colorful the fruit, the more phytochemicals are in them.
Berries are known as good sources of:
- Vitamin C
- Ellagic Acid (especially strawberries and raspberries)
- Flavonoids (especially strawberries)
- Anthocyanosides (especially blueberries)
What research suggests is that vitamin C probably protect against cancer of the esophagus; fiber probably decrease one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Ellagic acid has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast. Research suggests that ellagic acid seems to utilize several different cancer-fighting methods at once:
- It acts as an antioxidant
- It helps the body deactivate some carcinogens
- It helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells
Flavonoids seems to employ a similar array of anti-cancer strategies as ellagic acid and anthocyanosides are among the most potent antioxidants yet discovered.
So you might be thinking, if fiber, vitamin C and these phytochemicals are so good for me then I'll just take a fiber supplement, vitamin C supplement and a phytochemical pill. More is better, right? Not necessarily!
Or you could also say, I'll just eat nothing but blueberries the rest of my life!
While all these components have promise in reducing risk of cancer and promoting a healthy body and immune system, we don't know for sure that it's not something else in the berries, or a combination of things that are doing the most good. Personally, I think there is a unique combination of health promoting chemicals in all plant foods that a pill can never replace.
Eat a healthy diet, and don't expect pills, powders or supplements to make up for a poor diet. Throw in daily physical activity, stress management and a good social community and you've got it!