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Studies agree. The phytochemicals (or plant chemicals) in berries are worth learning more about.
For example, researchers now know that key phytochemicals protect the body against disease—but how is this possible?
While anthocyanins, a class of chemicals that give berries their bright pigment, are found in many colorful fruits and vegetables, they are especially high in berries and a natural source of antioxidants.
Studies show that anthocyanins offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits. (1)(2)(3) For example, anthocyanins:
- Are high in antioxidants, which protect against free radical damage.
- Protect and maintain your genetic code, or DNA.
- Safeguard against inflammation.
- Are heart-healthy and good for your cardiovascular system.
- Help to fight cancer.
- Can prevent and even reverse the effects of aging in the brain.
Whew! With such a long list of health benefits, you may want to know which foods contain the most anthocyanins.
Here's a hint - most of them are berries:
- Black current
- Purple corn
- Muscadine grape
- Red cabbage
As you can see, you will most often encounter anthocyanins when you eat berries. It’s worthwhile to note that anthocyanins are sensitive to temperature, pH, light, and oxygen. (4) In other words, cooking can destroy the level of anthocyanins in food.
The Bilberry and Weight Loss
The bilberry is a close relative of the blueberry. Unlike the blueberry, the bilberry is not common in North America. It is native to Northern and Central Europe and—because it is a soft and juicy berry—bilberries are generally only available fresh at local markets and in gourmet stores.
Bilberry skin and flesh is a deep, rich purple color. And as you might expect, bilberries are full of anthocyanins. As it turns out, the bilberry may be able to help resolve a constellation of disorders called metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome puts you at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Signs of metabolic syndrome include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
Roughly 68 million adults in the United States are affected by metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, every year we see an increase in numbers of those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. (5) And while metabolic syndrome affects a large number of people in the United States, small changes in lifestyle can provoke dramatic shifts in health.
The bilberry naturally contains high concentrations of anthocyanins. (6) According to a 2011 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism, the anthocyanins in bilberries interfere with insulin signaling. (7)
Insulin plays a major role in the regulation of blood sugar and in the deposit of fat. Researchers have found that the anthocyanins in bilberries block the expression of genes that are triggered by high blood sugar. These genes encourage weight gain.
The authors of the study concluded that bilberry anthocyanins may be beneficial for patients recovering from metabolic syndrome.
How to Enjoy Fruit While Protecting Your Body’s Ecology
The Body Ecology Diet is a gluten-free, casein-free, and sugar-free diet that helps you to rebuild the communities of healthy bacteria and yeast living in your gut—otherwise known as your inner ecosystem.
And while all fruit contains sugar, we recognize that many fruits benefit the body in a unique way. This is why the Body Ecology Diet includes sour fruits, which are low in sugar and high in nutrients.
Brightly colored berries are at the top of this list. When enjoying berries and other sour fruits, we recommend that you eat fruit:
- In the morning
- Alone, on an empty stomach
- In small amounts
- With a protein fat—avocado, soaked and sprouted nuts, or dairy kefir
Remember: If digestion is sluggish, fruit sugars have a greater chance of fermenting and feeding harmful yeast, like Candida.
If you don’t have any berries on hand, Body Ecology’s Vitality SuperGreen contains bilberry and other antioxidants, like acerola cherry and Rhodiola rosea. (8) Donna enjoys a balanced and delicious smoothie with a scoop of Vitality SuperGreen, a nutrient-dense protein fat (like avocado), InnergyBiotic, and Stevia.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Berries are popular as refreshing summertime treats, and they are also rich in anthocyanins to provide health benefits to protect against:
- Free radical damage
- DNA damage
- Aging in the brain
While all berries are a good source of anthocyanins, the bilberry has been hailed for its impact on metabolic syndrome. The bilberry has high concentrations of anthocyanins that can affect fat deposits, blood sugar regulation, and even weight gain. Researchers encourage patients recovering from metabolic syndrome to enjoy all the natural health benefits the bilberry has to offer.
The Body Ecology Diet recommends eating sour fruits, like berries, that are naturally low in sugar and high in nutrients in the morning, on an empty stomach, in small amounts, and with a protein fat. To jumpstart your day without fresh berries, you can whip up a smoothie with bilberry-rich Vitality SuperGreen, InnergyBiotic, Stevia, and avocado.
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- Bagchi, D., Sen, C. K., Bagchi, M., & Atalay, M. (2004). Anti-angiogenic, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties of a novel anthocyanin-rich berry extract formula. Biochemistry (Moscow), 69(1), 75-80.
- Zafra-Stone, S., Yasmin, T., Bagchi, M., Chatterjee, A., Vinson, J. A. and Bagchi, D. (2007), Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 51: 675–683.
- Park, E. J., & Pezzuto, J. M. (2002). Botanicals in cancer chemoprevention. Cancer and Metastasis Reviews, 21(3-4), 231-255.
- Havlíková, L., & Míková, K. (1985). Heat stability of anthocyanins. Zeitschrift für Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und Forschung, 181(5), 427-432.
- Mozumdar, A., & Liguori, G. (2011). Persistent increase of prevalence of metabolic syndrome among US adults: NHANES III to NHANES 1999–2006. Diabetes Care, 34(1), 216-219.
- Takikawa, M., Inoue, S., Horio, F., & Tsuda, T. (2010). Dietary anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract ameliorates hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity via activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in diabetic mice. The Journal of nutrition, 140(3), 527-533.
- Suzuki, R., Tanaka, M., Takanashi, M., Hussain, A., Yuan, B., Toyoda, H., & Kuroda, M. (2011). Anthocyanidins-enriched bilberry extracts inhibit 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation via the insulin pathway. Nutrition & metabolism, 8(1), 14.
- Adaptogen, A. P. P. (2001). Rhodiola rosea: a possible plant adaptogen. Altern Med Rev, 6(3), 293-302.
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