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Don’t you love a juicy fruit platter, a refreshing berry smoothie, or adding fresh berries to yogurt or cereal? Berries are not only a naturally sweet treat, but they are loaded with nutrients. Polyphenols, such as flavonoids and anthocyanins, and other potent antioxidants account for the vast health benefits of raspberries and blueberries as well as their deep red and blue colors. If you are not already doing so, consider eating raw berries daily for a more well-rounded diet.
The Top Health Benefits of Raspberries and Blueberries
#1. They may help slow down the aging process.
Oxidative stress can accelerate aging by damaging cells, proteins, and DNA. Indeed, oxidative stress is the causative factor in the pathogenesis of many major diseases: Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, muscular degeneration and others. So, the key to preventing pre-mature aging and the development of chronic health problems is to limit oxidative stress in the body. And, the way to do that is by consuming antioxidants found in food. Extensive research confirms that the most powerful antioxidants in berries are a class of polyphenols known as anthocyanins. Berry anthocyanins strongly combat oxidative stress.
Berries may help slow down the aging process externally, too. The high vitamin C content in berries help keep collagen building underneath the skin so the skin stays firm, toned, elastic-like, younger looking, and younger feeling. (Simply put, eating berries regularly can help prevent wrinkles and excessive aging of the skin!)
#2. They may help slow down mental decline and improve memory.
Berries are also well-known for their potential to protect against age-related decline of memory and their ability to enhance cognitive performance. One reason berries are so beneficial for brain health is because the flavonoids they contain are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. This enables them to influence the region in the brain associated with memory and motor function.
In one study, healthy people aged 65-77 drank concentrated blueberry juice every day and showed improvements in cognitive function and blood flow to the brain. MRIs found that the participants drinking the blueberry juice had more brain activity than those who received the placebo.
#3. They may help dilate and relax blood vessels improving intimacy response.
Berries have also been shown to relax blood vessels. The health benefits of this are twofold: First, consuming raspberries and blueberries may help regulate blood pressure levels. Second, they can be used as a natural remedy for impotency because relaxation of blood vessels paves the way for enhanced blood circulation. Berries are also good sources of fiber, which can help in flushing out excessive cholesterol levels, the failure of which can increase the risk for both heart disease and impotence in men.
#4. They may help reduce cancer risk.
Because berries are good sources of antioxidants, they may help reduce the risk of cancer. For example, a major component of blueberries, called pterostilbene, has been found to protect against colon cancer. And, raspberries contain ellagitannins, which are converted in the body to ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is a powerful chemical that has anticarcinogenic actions that fight against some types of cancer cells. Both blueberries and raspberries have been shown to stimulate apoptosis (death) of human cancer cells including oral cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and others.
How to Get All the Health Benefits of Raspberries and Blueberries
These berries really don’t mess around when it comes to maintaining good health so be sure to stock up! Unless you’re following a certain doctor-recommended diet, there really is no such thing as “too many” berries. It’s recommended that the average adult eats two servings of fruit a day, so around 2 cups of berries. You can add your berries to juices, smoothies or even on top of your favorite salads. Also, keep in mind that berries sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides can do more harm than good. So, the best way to avoid these pesticides is to buy organic produce.
How Do You Take Advantage of the Health Benefits of Raspberries and Blueberries Year-Round?
If you have decided to start taking advantage of the remarkable health benefits of raspberries and blueberries, then you obviously need a year-round source. The growing season is only a couple of months long so what do you do the rest of the year? Share with our readers how you access or else stock up on organic blueberries or raspberries for year-round consumption. Place your response in the Comments section below so other readers can benefit from your experience.
This article was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated.