Extremely powerful antioxidants, berries protect your body from inflammation. With their high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values – a method of measuring antioxidant capacities – berries help to prevent negative effects on the body by turning off inflammation signals, making them a vital part of our diet. These little power foods may be simple but they have been shown to possess a variety of amazing benefits from protecting the heart all the way to enhancing vision.
One of the primary benefits of berries is their ability to improve heart health and blood flow throughout the body. One way this is done is by reducing the buildup of harmful plaque on blood vessel walls, which reduces the risk of arteries hardening. By keeping arteries clean and avoiding the buildup of plaque, the heart can work more efficiently, reducing the potential of heart attacks and other heart disease related conditions.
Also, incorporation of berries into your diet has been shown to reduce oxidation of LDL – or “bad” – cholesterol. Oxidation, the process by which cells and tissue break down, is a key factor in heart disease because oxidized LDL can inflame arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks. Reducing the oxidation levels of LDL cholesterolnot only improves overall heart function, but also reduces long term risks of heart disease.
Even though taste is often what we like most about berries, their color is what makes them so good for us. The rich blues, deep purples and bright reds are a result of a group of phytochemicals called flavonoids. These pigments help to counter cell damage in our bodies caused by free radicals. Over time, free radicals contribute to disease and are one of the primary factors in the aging process.
Antioxidant compounds protect our bodies from the oxidative damage that is caused by everything from poor diet, environmental toxins and even vigorous exercise. By neutralizing free radicals, flavonoids may help to reduce the risk of cancerand aid inmemoryand other brain functions that begin to decline as we age.
Various forms of berries contain lutein, a carotenoid important for healthy vision. Reduced eye function and the degeneration of vision are some of the most common problems associated with aging. With the ability to protect against glaucoma and cataract progression, berries have been show to promote overall eye health. Berries have also been shown to enhance vision, especially at night, by supporting the regeneration of rhodopsinin the eyes. This process helps the eyes to adjust better during periods of darkness and also reduces the permeability of the fine blood vessel walls throughout the eye. Berries have also been shown to protect against retinopathy, a condition the leads to impaired vision and blindness due to blood accumulation in the retina.
Sometimes the simplest things offer the best benefits. Berries are some of the most powerful (and delicious) disease-fighting foods available. Introducing them into your diet – ideally two or three types each day – can improve various areas of health and overall well-being.