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 are a natural source of antioxidants.
Studies show that anthocyanins offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits. 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!
- 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. 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. And while metabolic syndrome affects a large number of people in the United States, small changes in lifestyle can provoke dramatic shifts in health.
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, fermented beverages, or dairy kefir
Remember: If digestion is sluggish, fruit sugars have a greater chance of fermenting and feeding harmful yeast, like Candida.