Salud Total: Berries

These small and colourful fruit are often packed full of extremely useful nutrients, and even in small quantities can offer various health benefits. From berries, and particularly the darker ones, our body takes substances called Anthocianosides, which are flavonoid antioxidants, and are in fact what give the berries their colour. These flavonoids also help to generate Rodopsin, an eye protein needed for night sight and healthy eyes – which is depleted by bright sun light and computer screens. They could also maintain the blood capillaries in the eyes, and are thought to improve vision generally and reduce eye strain. The many varying nutrients in berries can help in maintaining healthy blood circulation and could ease or reduce varicose veins, calcium deposits in the arteries and blood clots. The antioxidants can reduce cell damage and contribute to keeping our body healthy. By weight, berries are higher in antioxidants than most other fruit, and although some are difficult to find fresh, they can be also be bought in juice or tablet form. When buying the juice it is important to choose a natural juice that has not been diluted or sweetened. Although all berries share certain healthy properties, each type of berry has particular characteristics that make it individually special.

In World War II, it was reported that British fighter pilots who consumed bilberry jam had better night vision, and although this story can not be traced, they do seem to help prevent macular degeneration. Bilberries are the berry most linked to eye health, and when taken with vitamin E have been shown to prevent the advance of cataracts in 95% of cases.
Cranberries, or their juice, are often taken for urinary tract infections, and could also reduce the bacteria that cause dental plaque. They have been linked to a reduced risk of bladder infection in people with catheters and could aid in preventing the infection of stomas.
Goji Berries have become very popular in Spain, and can be bought in juice, tablet or dry berry form. Sometimes called Wolfberries, they have traditionally been grown in China for local consumption, but has now become very popular thanks to slightly exaggerated claims about their antioxidant properties. They, along with Açaí, are probably the most effective berries for antioxidant free-radical scavenging, and forming part of an "anti-ageing" diet.
Açaí berries are another type, this time from Brazil, and, like all berries, are rich in antioxidants, but have also been linked to weight loss and "detox" treatments. They are not yet available here as fresh fruit, but tablets or juice processed just after picking can deliver all the benefits of this little known berry. Açaí have recently become popular with the rich and famous as part of the Hollywood Diet, which involves semi fasting and drinking a mixed juice of "superfruits", although again, claims are often wildly exaggerated.
Although not officially berries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries also contain many these antioxidant compounds, although not in such high quantities.
As with all fruit, a small quantity of any (or all) of these berries can make a very healthy addition to your daily diet, but remember that many of the so called "miracles" that you may read in the press or on the internet are based on long term consumption of the berries along with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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