Anthocyanins are a colorful way to prevent cardiovascular disease


Image: Anthocyanins are a colorful way to prevent cardiovascular disease

It is often said that presentation is everything when it comes to meals, but there’s an even better reason to fill your plate with colorful foods. The pigment that gives foods like berries their rich red and purple hues also doubles as powerful protection against cardiovascular disease.

Studies have shown that this pigment, anthocyanin, not only offers antioxidant effects; it also protects people from chronic diseases. Indeed, one of its most impressive feats is lowering the risk of the cardiovascular conditions that take millions of lives each year, such as stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis.

In a systematic review that involved more than 600,000 participants, British researchers looked at the impact that dietary anthocyanins had on cardiovascular events. They discovered that those who had the greatest dietary anthocyanin intake enjoyed a 9 percent reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease; when it came to death due to heart disease, their risk was 8 percent lower compared to those who consumed the lowest amount of anthocyanin.

The study, which was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, is the strongest argument yet for increasing your fruit intake. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion suggests that people eat a minimum of two servings of fruit per day; just 32 percent of Americans reach that goal.

Choose the right fruits

It’s easy to spot fruits that contain anthocyanins because of their red, purple and blue colors. Some of the best sources include strawberries, blackberries, grapes, pomegranates, cherries, blueberries, raspberries and bilberries. They can also be found in red cabbage, eggplant, and purple potatoes. It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the fruit’s skins contain the most anthocyanins given their rich color, so make sure you also eat the skin – and be sure to choose organic to avoid pesticide exposure. The review’s authors say that just one to two portions of berries per day are enough to get the anthocyanins you need to protect your heart.

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Anthocyanin’s many benefits

The review is supported by several other studies, including one from 2012 that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That study showed a link between a higher intake of anthocyanin and significantly lower systolic blood pressure, arterial pressure, and pulse wave velocity. It also confirmed an earlier study that showed eight weeks of taking blueberry supplements reduced participants’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6 and 4 percent respectively.

In addition, anthocyanins can help prevent neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. They accomplish this by improving the communication between nerves and boosting blood flow to the brain. Their antioxidant effect also means they can stop brain damage caused by oxidative stress.

If you’re still not sold on the benefits of anthocyanins, consider this: They can fight cancer cells by attacking them and spurring cell death, in addition to activating the enzymes that rid your body of cancer-causing substances.

Studies have also shown that consuming foods rich in anthocyanins can lower your insulin resistance and protect beta cells in the pancreas, which helps normalize blood levels. That means anthocyanin-rich fruits can help inhibit diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease continues to be one of the top causes of death in America, affecting 84 million Americans and causing roughly one out of every three deaths. Those are very frightening statistics, so you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to consume more anthocyanins and take other steps known to reduce your risk, like exercising and eating as healthier diet overall.

What Are Blackberries Good For?


Blackberry Bliss
Botanical name: Rubus fruticosusBlackberry Nutrition Facts

Nothing says “Summer!” like a fresh fruit salad and if blackberries aren’t in the mix, you’re definitely missing out! Sweet and succulent, this fruit belongs to the same family and closely resembles dewberries and raspberries.

Blackberries, which grow on thorny bushes called brambles, are native to Europe, but are now also grown commercially in the U.S. They are available all year round but thrive during spring and early summer. Blackberries grow well in a wide range of soils although good drainage is necessary and remember to plant them where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.

The blackberry is technically not just one fruit. Each blackberry consists of 80-100 small drupelets that are arranged in a circular fashion, akin to a miniature grape bunch. Each berry has a juicy pulp, a single tiny seed, and measures three to four centimeters long.

Blackberries have a sweet, tart flavor, making them a perfect addition to salads or fruit smoothies. They can also be used as a topping for yogurt or blended into savory sauces that are perfect for meat recipes. Blackberries can be enjoyed by themselves, as a light snack (best consumed in moderation) or dessert.

The blackberry is a robust fruit that can be easily stored: simply wash the berries, cut off the hulls, and vacuum seal in a Ziploc bag before storing in the freezer. They will keep for several months – just defrost and they’re ready to go!

Health Benefits of Blackberries

The nutrient list of blackberries is extensive. They are loaded with vitamin C (a 100g serving has 23 mg or 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance or RDA), but are low in calories (only 43 calories per 100g serving) and sodium. They are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. A 100g serving of whole blackberries contains 5.3 g of fiber, which is 14 percent of the RDA.

Blackberries are also rich in vitamins A, E, K, and B vitamins, as well as antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and chronic diseases. They are one of the best high-ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) foods available. Minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid, are also found in this fruit.

The humble blackberry contains impressively high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid, anthocyanins, tannin, gallic acid, pelargonidins, quercetin, cyanidins, kaempferol,catechins, and salicylic acid. These antioxidant compounds protect against aging, inflammation, cancer, and other neurological diseases.

However, consume blackberries in moderation because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.

Blackberry Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw

Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 43
Calories from Fat 4
Total Fat 0 g 1%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 g
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 10 g 3%
Dietary Fiber 5 g 21%
Sugar 5 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A4% Vitamin C 35%
Calcium3% Iron 3%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Studies on Blackberries

There is a growing body of research claiming that berries such as blackberries may be among the most potent cancer-fighting fruits. Blackberries are rich in cyanidin 3-glucoside, ellagic acid, lignans, and the flavonoid myricetin – substances that may have cancer-protective properties. Postmenopausal women with breast cancer who consume high amounts of plant lignans are found to be less likely to die from their breast cancer compared to patients with low intake.

Cyanidin 3-glucoside in particular has been found to have chemotherapeutic and chemo-protective activity.1 Ellagic acid, another potent ingredient in blackberries, has been shown to inhibit cancer formation, while myricetin has antioxidant action. This beneficial combination of chemicals in blackberries may effectively prevent cancer more than any one of individual chemicals alone.

Blackberries may also have beneficial effects on your brain health. According to an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,2 the high antioxidant levels in blackberries, strawberries, and other berries may help prevent age-related memory loss.

Science Daily reports:

“…Berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition.”3

Blackberry Healthy Recipes:
Triple Berry Kale Salad

Blackberry Healthy Recipes
Ingredients:
1 head of curly kale, leaves removed from stem and torn 1 cup fresh tart cherries, pitted and sliced 1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh blackberries 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries 1 avocado, chopped
2/3 cup chopped toasted almonds ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper
For the Strawberry Vinaigrette
3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries 3 Tbsp. olive oil 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon honey
1 pinch salt 1 pinch pepper 1 pinch cinnamon

Procedure:

  1. To make the vinaigrette,combine all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Place kale in a large bowl, and add about 1/4 cup of the strawberry vinaigrette. Massage and rub dressing into kale with your hands, then let the kale sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add in salt, pepper, cherries, berries and avocado, then add a few more tablespoons of dressing and toss. Finish by topping with chopped almonds.

This recipe makes four servings.
(From HowSweetEats.com)

Blackberries Fun Facts

There is an old Irish proverb saying: “On Michaelmas Day, the devil puts his foot on blackberries.” According to British and Irish superstition, Old Michaelmas Day (the Feast of St. Michael, one of the principal angelic warriors), which is on October 10th, is the last day when blackberries should be harvested. Legend has it that this was the day Lucifer was banished from heaven and, upon falling from the skies, landed on a thorny blackberry bush. He cursed and spat on the fruits, then scorched them with his fiery breath, making them unfit for human consumption.

Summary

Juicy and tangy-sweet, blackberries are a summertime berry and a popular addition to salads and smoothies. Their dark color is a sign of their high antioxidant content, and a boon for fighting the signs of aging, cancer, and other degenerative diseases.There’s no shortage of nutrients in this little fruit, as it’s packed with vitamins A, E, K, and B vitamins, fiber, antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, and an impressive array of health-promoting flavonoids.

However, remember that blackberries are best consumed in their natural state in order to obtain their benefits. Freezing them also preserves the nutrients, even though the texture may change.