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You are what you eat!

May 31, 2009

Bouquet of flowersLast week I was feeling somewhat stressed and fatigued; my skin was showing it. I hadn’t been drinking water as much as I usually do, because I was literally glued to my laptop reading everything under the sun about health, fitness and how it affects your skin for several hours, that I lost track of time!

So this week, I made myself leave my home office, and went for a drive – first thing I did was hit a grocery store and went for was a large bottle of water, then I grabbed a few cartons of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. After running a few errands, and walking for an hour, I went home and decided to eat my fruit!  I rinsed the fruit, chopped up the strawberries and basically ate half the bowl!  It was so refreshing!

The next morning, when I got out of bed and looked into the mirror, I couldn’t believe my eyes!   My skin looked radiant & flawless and my eyes appeared bright, so they weren’t kidding when they said that blueberries and blackberries are full of anti-oxidants.

So friends, go shopping and include a few cartons of blueberries and blackberries. The key to ensuring a flavor able experience is to sniff the cartons – that’s right, sniff them. If you can smell the scent, then they will be tasty. As for strawberries, rich and red is good, as well as firm. Rinse thoroughly, clean and slice up the strawberries, mix the fruit. Grab low fat cottage cheese, 2-3 tablespoons in a dish, top with fresh fruit and voila – a tasty and healthy snack, not to mention your skin will say thank you!

Here are a few facts about Blueberries (and berries in general) courtesy of  http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/index.htm

Health Benefits of Blueberries
Source: U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Health Section
From research labs all across the country and the world, there is growing evidence that blueberries could be powerful little disease fighters. Here is what we have learned so far…

Antioxidants – Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have found that blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other age related diseases.

Anthocyanin — the pigment that makes the blueberries blue — is thought to be responsible for this major health benefit.

Anti-AgingIn another USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) lab, neuroscientists discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age-related loss in their mental capacity, a finding that has important implications for humans. Again, the high antioxidant activity of blueberries probably played a role.

Disease PreventionBlueberries may reduce the build up of so called “bad” cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to scientists at the University of California at Davis. Antioxidants are believed to be the active component.

Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections – Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have identified a compound in blueberries that promotes urinary tract health and reduces the risk of infection. It appears to work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the walls of the urinary tract.

Blueberries and Eyesight – A number of studies in Europe have documented the relationship between bilberries, the European cousin of blueberries and improved eyesight. This is thought to occur because of the anthocyanin in the blue pigment which is also available in the blueberry. One study in Japan documented that blueberries helped ease eye fatigue.

New Research
Cholesterol Reducing Blueberries – At the recent American Chemical Society meeting it was reported that a compound found in blueberries called pterostilbene has “the potential to be developed into a nutraceutical for lowering cholesterol, particularly for those who do not respond well to conventional drugs,” reports foodnavigator.com (8/24/04). Study authors from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) indicate that the compound found in Vaccinium berries could be a “potent weapon in the battle against obesity and heart disease through its cholesterol-reducing potential.” Head researcher, Agnes M. Rimando and her associates “earlier showed that this compound may help fight cancer.” An abstract of the study is found on the Agricultural Research Service website which also studied the presence of resveratrol and piceatannol . According to the technical abstract, “These naturally occurring stilbenes, known to be strong antioxidants and to have cancer chemopreventive activity, will add to purported health benefits derived from consumption of these small fruits.”

Ethnobotany and Blueberries: Blueberries have been associated with positive physiological and cosmetic benefits for centuries. Here we list non scientific information which although not endorsed by the USHBC, may be of interest to researchers as a direction for further research.

  • Blueberry Health and Nutrition traditions in China. (under construction)
  • Native American and First Nations of Canada blueberry health and medicinal traditions. (under construction)
  • Blueberry health and nutrition in Russia and Central European Traditions. (under construction)

Nutrition Summary – The following summarizes some of the published research in the area of nutraceuticals and health.

The belief that food products have medicinal properties has been celebrated in folk medicine for centuries. Today food properties are being explored by the medical and scientific fields. Some cultures have long valued many naturally occurring substances believed to have preventative and therapeutic value. In the United States, nutraceuticals are part of a rapidly expanding area of biomedical research, generating considerable interest among consumers, manufacturers, and regulators alike. This is a progressive area; the field is continually conducting studies and discovering possible benefits.

Though blueberries themselves are not a cure-all, they contain a number of substances which are thought to have health benefits. These substances include, but are not limited to fructose, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants thus far, seem to have the most conclusive role in the prevention/ delaying of such diseases as cancer, heart disease and the aging process however, a limited number of studies, especially long term and on human beings, are not available at this time.

Have a great Monday and I will write more this week about how fitness, walking and sleep affect your skin.

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