A fruit cup of mixed berries is a powerful snack: deeply colored fruits are filled with flavonoids and other antioxidants that help protect the body from disease. Antioxidants help prevent free-radical damage, which is believed to be responsible for the onset of eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
The colored flavonoids found in berries are called “anthocyanins”. These water-soluble pigments make plants shades of red, purple and blue. Berries also contain flavonoids called “quercetin” and “apigenin”. In the field or in the wild, these flavonoids help protect the plant from pests and insects.
When we eat berries, the flavonoids have the same biological activity. A study in the journal Circulation suggested that anthocyanins from berries help open the arterial wall and lessen the buildup of plaque. Their antioxidant effect inhibits damage to the cells. They also help prevent breast, prostate and lung cancer.
“The general hypothesis is that aging and chronic disease may result from oxidative stress or inflammation over a person’s lifetime,” said Steven Schwartz, director at the Center for Functional Food Research and Entrepreneurship and a professor of food science at Ohio State University. The cumulative effect of free radical damage and poor nutrition catches up with people as they age; therefore, older individuals need to be especially vigilant with their diets. People of all ages could benefit from adding as much as three servings of berries per day to reduce the deleterious effects of free radical damage.
Editor’s Note: Blueberries and bilberries have long been known to help support strong night vision and overall eye health. NaturalEyeCare.com’s Advanced Eye and Vision Support Formula contains both types of berries, plus a wide range of other antioxidants for eye health.
Study: High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women by Cassidy et. al. Circulation. 2013; 127: 188-196 doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.122408