The juicy strawberries, the ravishing raspberries and the pulpy mulberries have more to their kitty than their colorful nature and use in jams and squashes. There is something more to these berries than their attractive color, but their beauty is in part due to the presence of pigments called anthocyanins. With more than 500 different types of anthocyanins there have been various studies and research concerning its benefits in protecting against human diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer too.
Cancer is a global health crisis with high mortality and disability rates. While prostate, lung, colorectal and liver cancer remain the common forms of cancer in males, breast, lung, uterine and stomach cancer remain dominant among females. Cancer cannot be defined as a disease of old nor is it always inherent. Lifestyle and health factors such as using tobacco, consuming alcohol, obesity and exposure to harmful radiations of the sun increase the risk of certain cancers. Abnormal weight ranges are associated with an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, colorectal, esophageal, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic and thyroid cancer. Food and diet are prime environmental factors that affects individuals at several levels. Certain foods can also be used as a tool to bring about a positive biological response to elevate health of the individual and protect him/her from diseases. Most commonly studied among them are fruits and vegetables that have been shown to protect the body against cancerous effects.
Berries are small, pulpy edible fruits that are rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins. The skin, seeds and leaves of the berries are rich in anthocyanins while polyphenols are found in fruits, seeds and leaves of plants. Berries have always interested researchers as many of its compounds have been upheld to possess chemopreventive properties. There have been studies showing that consumption of berries offers chemoprotective properties and also helps in showing an improved response in several cancer types.
Every kind of berry, specifically strawberries and raspberries are rich in ellagic acid (phytochemical) that has the ability to offer protection against skin, bladder, lung, esophageal and breast cancer. Strawberries contain flavonoids while blueberries contain anthocyanosides both of which are strongly believed to contain anti-cancer properties.
Targeting a Single Anthocyanin
Latest research focused on anthocyanin’s effects on an enzyme related to cancer and aging-sirtuin (SIRT6). This enzyme regulates the expressions of genes that are involved in various pathways and ageing causes a degeneration of this enzyme which in turn paves way for different illnesses.
Researchers were interested in understanding a particular type of anthocyanin called as cyanidin which is commonly present in wild bilberry, raspberry and cranberry. Cyanidin increases the production of SIRT6 and also expression of enzymes in colorectal cancer cells. Surprisingly, the same anthocyanin also decreased expression of the cancer genes Twist1 and GLUT1 while increasing expression of FOXO3 gene that is a tumor suppressant. In a nutshell, this compound increased the production of cancer-stopping genes and decreased the production of cancer-inducing genes.
While this study clearly denotes the effects of berries on cancer there have been previous studies that boosted the advantages of consuming fruits on health. There was another study in 2016 that followed more than one lakh individuals and found that eating blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and strawberries rich in anthocyanins helped these individuals gain less weight within the next two years. Yet another research showed that eating raspberries, blackberries and black raspberries rich in antioxidants worked wonders in boosting health. Antioxidants offer protection against free radicals and for more information on antioxidant-free radicals reaction please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Berries are edible fruits containing different compounds such as anthocyanins, flavonoids and other antioxidants that seem to protect greatly against cancer, possess the ability to extend chemoprevention in cancer mainly of the GI tract, breast, lung, liver, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Until now there have been no disadvantages noted due to the intake of berries and this makes these fruits even more tempting to consume and a potentially useful strategy to reduce risk of cancer.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.