Health Benefits of 12 Fruits Extracts found in Alive Mega Nutritionals

12 Fruit Extracts
Plum

Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered “drupes,” fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. When plums are dried, they are known as prunes.

Health Benefits

The fresh version (plums) and the dried version (prunes) of the plant scientifically known as Prunus domestica have been the subject of repeated health research for their high content of unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These substances found in plum and prune are classified as phenols, and their function as antioxidants has been well-documented.

Significant Antioxidant Protection from Phenols

These damage-preventing substances are particularly effective in neutralizing a particularly destructive oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical, and they have also been shown to help prevent oxygen-based damage to fats, such as the fats that comprise a substantial portion of our brain cells or neurons, the cholesterol and triglycerides circulating in our bloodstream, or the fats that make up our cell membranes.

Better Iron Absorption Plus More Antioxidant Protection from Vitamin C

The ability of plum and prune to increase absorption of iron into the body has also been documented in published research. This ability of plum and prune to make iron more available may be related to the vitamin C content of this fruit. Our food ranking system qualified plums as a very good source of vitamin C.

In addition to assisting with absorption of iron, vitamin C is needed in the body to make healthy tissue and is also needed for a strong immune system. Getting a little extra vitamin C around cold and flu season is a good idea, and may also be helpful for people who suffer from recurrent ear infections. Vitamin C also helps to protect cholesterol from becoming oxidized by free radicals. Since oxidized cholesterol is the kind that builds up in the arteries and causes damage to blood vessels, some extra vitamin C can be helpful for people who suffer from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. In addition, vitamin C can help neutralize free radicals that could otherwise contribute to the development or progression of conditions like asthma, colon cancer, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, so vitamin C may be able to help those who are at risk or suffering from these conditions. Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but plums can help you reach this goal. Add diced plums to your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or green salads. For a beautiful and delicious brown rice, add chopped plums and pistachios. Need to grab a snack? What could be better than a cool, sweet, juicy plum on a summer’s day?

Our food ranking system also qualified plums as a good source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B2, dietary fiber and potassium.

Safety

Plums and Oxalates

Plums are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating plums. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits-including absorption of calcium-from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a healthcare practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content. For more on this subject, please see “Can you tell me what oxalates are and in which foods they can be found?”

Nutritional Profile

Plums are a very good source of vitamin C. They are also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B2 and potassium. In addition, plums are a good source of dietary fiber.

Cranberry
A cousin of the blueberry, this very tart, bright red berry can still be found growing wild as a shrub, but when cultivated, is grown on low trailing vines in great sandy bogs. The American cranberry, the variety most cultivated in the northern United States and southern Canada, produces a larger berry than the wild cranberry or the European variety.

Cranberries have long been valued for their ability to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Now, recent studies suggest that this native American berry may also promote gastrointestinal and oral health, prevent the formation of kidney stones, lower LDL and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, aid in recovery from stroke, and even help prevent cancer.

Health Benefits

Protection against Urinary Tract Infection

Cranberries have been valued for their ability to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections for hundreds of years. In 1994, a placebo-controlled study of 153 elderly women was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that gave scientific credibility to claims of cranberries effectiveness in preventing urinary tract infection. In this study, the women given cranberry juice had less than half the number of urinary infections as the control group (only 42% as many, to be precise), who received a placebo imitation “cranberry” drink. The daily dose of cranberry juice in this initial study was just 300 milliliters (about one and one-quarter cups). Since then, a number of other studies have also confirmed anecdotal tales of cranberry’s ability to both treat and prevent urinary tract infections. In most of these later studies, subjects drank about 16 ounces (2 cups) of cranberry juice daily.

How does cranberry juice help prevent urinary tract infections? It acidifies the urine, contains an antibacterial agent called hippuric acid, and also contains other compounds that reduce the ability of E. coli bacteria to adhere to the walls of the urinary tract. Before an infection can start, a pathogen must first latch on to and then penetrate the mucosal surface of the urinary tract walls, but cranberries prevent such adherence, so the E. coli is washed away in the urine and voided. Since E. coli is pathogen responsible for 80-90% of urinary tract infections, the protection afforded by cranberries is quite significant.

Studies attempting to explain cranberries’ protective effects on urinary tract health were presented at the Experimental Biology Conference held in 2002. Amy Howell, research scientist at the Marucci Center for Blueberry Cranberry Research at Rutgers University and Jess Reed, professor of nutrition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, compared the proanthycyanins (active compounds) in cranberries to those found in grapes, apples, green tea and chocolate. They discovered that “the cranberry’s proanthocyanidins are structurally different than the proanthocyanidins found in the other plant foods tested, which may explain why cranberry has unique bacterial anti-adhesion activity and helps to maintain urinary tract health.”

8-Ounces Better than 4 to Prevent Bladder Infections

Cranberry’s protective effects against bladder infections may be dose responsive, with 8-ounces of cranberry juice being twice as effective as 4-ounces, suggests preliminary research presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America by Kalpana Gupta from the University of Washington.

Gupta reported the details of a very small trial in which three volunteers were given 27% cranberry juice cocktail. Urine samples, collected before and 4-6 hours after drinking the cranberry juice, were combined with human bladder cells and incubated with Escherichia coli (the most common cause of bladder infections). The number of bacteria able to adhere to the bladder cells (the first step a pathogen must achieve to be able to cause infection) was significantly reduced in the urine of all women who drank the cranberry juice cocktail, and the effect was doubled when the women drank eight ounces of cranberry rather than four ounces.

Cranberry’s protective effect is thought to be due to a specific type of tannin, found only in cranberries and blueberries, which interferes with projections on the bacterium, preventing it from sticking to the walls of the bladder and causing infection. However, once the bacteria have established a hold, it’s best to seek medical advice. No evidence shows cranberry juice is able to cure an established bladder infection, which can lead to a more serious kidney infection. The researchers plan further studies in a larger group of women to investigate the optimal amount and frequency of cranberry juice consumption.

Cranberry Juice Shows Promise as Alternative to Antibiotics

New research has greatly increased our understanding of how cranberry juice prevents urinary tract and kidney infections.

A series of studies led by Terri Camesano from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the latest of which were presented September 19, 2006 at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, show that compounds in cranberry juice have the capacity to actually change E. coli bacteria-even strains that have become resistant to conventional treatment-in ways that render them unable to initiate an infection. E. coli, a class of microorganisms responsible for a wide variety of human illnesses ranging from urinary tract and kidney infections to gastroenteritis to tooth decay, are changed in several ways by a group of tannins (called proanthocyanidins) found primarily in cranberries. Each one of these changes can prevent the bacteria from adhering to cells in the body, a necessary first step in any infection.

Cranberry proanthocyanidins:

* Alter E. coli’s cell membranes
* Prevent the bacteria from making contact with cells or attaching to them even if they somehow manage to get close enough
* Change the shape of E.coli from rods to spheres
* Disrupt bacterial communication

Alter E. coli Cell Membranes

In research published February 2006 in Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Camesano showed that exposure to cranberry juice causes tiny tendrils (known as fimbriae) on the surface of the type of E. coli bacteria responsible for the most serious types of urinary tract infections to become compressed. Since its fimbriae are what allow the bacteria to bind tightly to the lining of the urinary tract, compressing them greatly reduces E. coli’s ability to remain in place long enough to launch an infection.

Prevent E. coli from Making Contact

In research published in August 2006 in Colloids and Surfaces, B. Biointerfaces Camesano found that chemical changes caused by cranberry juice also create an energy barrier that prevents the bacteria from getting close enough to the urinary tract lining to try to adhere in the first place.

Change E. coli’s Shape and Activity

Camesano’s latest work reveals that cranberry juice can transform E. coli in even more radical ways, which have never before been observed. When the bacteria were grown in solutions containing various concentrations of either cranberry juice or cranberry tannins, E. coli, which is normally a gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium, became spherical and started behaving like gram-positive bacteria. Since gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria differ primarily in the structure of their cell membranes, these results suggest that cranberry tannins actually alter E. coli’s membrane.

The research Camesano presented at the ACS meeting also included yet another, more preliminary finding: when exposed to cranberry juice, E. coli appear to lose their ability to secrete indole, a molecule involved in a form of bacterial communication called quorum sensing, which is used by E. coli to determine when sufficient bacteria are present at a location to stage a successful infection attack.

“We are beginning to get a picture of cranberry juice and, in particular, the tannins found in cranberries, as potentially potent antibacterial agents,” Camesano said. “These results are surprising and intriguing, particularly given the increasing concern about the growing resistance of certain disease-causing bacteria to antibiotics.” For most of these effects, the higher the concentration of either cranberry juice or tannins, the greater their impact on E. coli, suggesting that whole cranberry products and juice that has not been highly diluted may have the greatest health effects.

Cranberries’ Potent Anti-Viral Activity

Long recognized as an effective treatment for urinary tract infections, cranberry juice’s benefits have now been shown to also extend to protection against viruses.

When researchers exposed three diverse viral species (the bacteriophages T2 and T4 of E. coli C and B, respectively, and the simian enteric virus, rotavirus SA-11) to commercially available cranberry juice (Ocean Spray), all were completely neutralized.

Cranberry juice’s anti-viral action was rapid, dose-dependent (a 20% juice suspension was needed to stop simian rotovirus from binding to the surface of cells) and unaffected by temperature (T4 was completely inactivated at four or 23 degrees Celsius, which is unusual since lower temperature is typically associated with lesser viral “kill”). While not nearly as potent as cranberry juice, orange and grapefruit juices reduced the viral infectivity of T2 and T4 to 25-35% of the control, respectively. Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):23-30.

Cranberries Combat Herpes Virus

Laboratory studies published in the October 2004 issue of the Journal of Science, Food and Agriculture have shown that a phytonutrient isolated from cranberries is effective against the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2), the cause of genital herpes. In a manner similar to the way the tannins in cranberries protect against bladder infection by preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, cranberries’ antiviral compound, proanthocyanidin A-1, inhibits the attachment and penetration of the herpes virus.While this is promising, we look forward to studies involving human subject to confirm these findings.

A Pro-biotic Berry for Gastrointestinal and Oral Health?

Not only kidney infections, but the majority of infectious diseases are initiated by the adhesion of pathogenic organisms to the tissues of the host. Cranberries ability to block this adhesion has been demonstrated not only against E. coli, the bacterium most commonly responsible for urinary tract infection, but also for a number of other common pathogens.

Delegates at the 2002 American Chemical Society meeting and Experimental Biology Conference were also informed about cranberries’ ability to act as a natural probiotic, supporting the health-promoting bacteria that grow in the human gastro-intestinal tract while killing off the bacteria that promote infections and foodborne illnesses.

One study presented by Leslie Plhak from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that whole frozen cranberries contained compounds able to inhibit the growth of common foodborne pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli 0157:H7, but enhanced the growth of the beneficial bacterium Lactobacillus fermentum by as much as 25 times.

Another test tube study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition indicated that a constituent in cranberry juice prevents the bacterium responsible for most gastric ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, from adhering to gastric epithelial cells (the cells that form the lining of the stomach).

Also published in this same journal was a study noting that compounds isolated from cranberry juice actually dissolved the aggregates formed by many oral bacteria and was effective in decreasing the salivary level of Streptococus mutans, the major cause of tooth decay. Among the other fruits tested, none had a similar effect except blueberries, whose protective action was much weaker that that of cranberries.

Further lab studies, published in Caries Research support cranberries’ ability to inhibit prevent cavities.

Dr Hyun Hoo, an oral biologist at the University of Rochester Medial Center in New York, studied the effects of cranberry juice on the processes involved in the development of biofilms by S. mutans.

Results showed that the cranberry juice interfered with S. mutans’ ability to stick to the surface of the “tooth,” thus preventing the development of cavities in a way similar to cranberry’s action in preventing urinary tract infections, in which cranberry juice inhibits the adhesion of pathogens in the urinary tract. One warning here: don’t consume large quantities of sugar-laden cranberry juice or cranberry sauce to protect your teeth; the sugar in these products is likely to cause not prevent decay. Choose unsweetened organic cranberry juice.
Boosts Effectiveness of Drugs against H. Pylori
Drinking cranberry juice significantly boosts eradication of Helicobacter pylori (the bacterium responsible for ulcers and many digestive complaints) in women receiving triple therapy with the antibiotics omeprazole, amoxicillin and clarithromycin (OAC), the gold standard drug treatment for this hard-to-eliminate pathogen. 889 patients on OAC were randomized to 1 of 3 groups. Group 1 received OAC + 250 mL (8.5 ounces) of cranberry juice for 1 week, followed by cranberry juice alone for 2 more weeks. Group 2 followed the same regimen but received a placebo-cranberry beverage, and Group 3 only took OAC. While the addition of cranberry juice did not appear to improve H. pylori eradication in men, among the women, cranberry juice raised the rate of H. pylori elimination from 82.5% to 95.2%. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):746-51.

Prevention of Kidney Stone Formation

Cranberries contain quinic acid, an acidic compound that is unusual in that it is not broken down in the body but is excreted unchanged in the urine. The presence of quinic acid causes the urine to become just slightly acidic-a level of acidity that is, however, sufficient to prevent calcium and phosphate ions from joining to form insoluble stones. In patients who have had recurrent kidney stones, cranberry juice has been shown to reduce the amount of ionized calcium in their urine by more than 50%-a highly protective effect since in the U.S., 75-85% of kidney stones are composed of calcium salts.

In one recent study evaluating the effect of cranberry juice on kidney stone formation, study subjects were divided into two groups, one of which drank 2 cups of cranberry juice diluted with 6 cups water each day for 2 weeks, while the other group drank tap water for the same period. After a 2 week period in which neither group drank any cranberry juice, the groups were switched, so that those who had drunk cranberry juice drank only tap water, while those who had drunk tap water consumed 2 cups cranberry juice diluted with 6 cups tap water daily for an additional 2 weeks. In both groups, drinking cranberry juice was found to significantly and uniquely alter three key urinary risk factors for the better: oxalate and phosphate excretion decreased; citrate excretion increased; and the relative supersaturation of calcium oxalate was significantly lower.

In another trial that evaluated the influence of cranberry, plum and blackcurrant juice on urinary stone risk factors, cranberry juice decreased the urinary pH (made the urine more acidic), and increased the excretion of oxalic acid and the relative supersaturation for uric acid. The researchers concluded that cranberry juice could be useful in the treatment of brushite (calcium) and struvite (non-calcium) stones as well as urinary tract infection.

Beneficial Actions on Cholesterol

After test tube research conducted at the University of Scranton demonstrated that cranberries’ antioxidants could protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, and animal research at three other universities provided evidence that cranberries can decrease levels of total cholesterol and LDL (low density or “bad” cholesterol), a human study has also corroborated these positive results.

The three month study funded by the U.S. Cranberry Institute was presented at the 225th national meeting of the American Chemical Society. Researchers measured cholesterol levels in 19 subjects with high cholesterol after a fasting, baseline blood sampling, followed by monthly samplings. Ten of the subjects were given cranberry juice with artificial sweetener, while the other subjects drank cranberry juice with no added sugars. Like typical supermarket cranberry juices, the drinks all contained approximately 27% pure cranberry juice by volume. Each subject drank one 8-ounce glass of juice a day for the first month, then two glasses a day for the next month, and finally, three glasses a day during the third month of the study. Subjects were not monitored with respect to exercise, diet and alcohol consumption.

Although no changes occurred in their overall cholesterol levels, study subjects’ HDL (good) cholesterol increased by an average of 10% after drinking three glasses of cranberry juice per day-an increase that, based on known epidemiological data on heart disease, corresponds to approximately a 40% reduction in heart disease risk.

Similarly, subjects’ plasma antioxidant capacity, a measure of the total amount of antioxidants available in the body, was significantly increased-by as much as 121% after two or three servings of juice per day. Increased antioxidant levels are also associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

While the mechanism by which cranberry juice changes cholesterol levels has not been clearly established, the researchers have theorized that the effect is due to the fruit’s high levels of polyphenols, a type of potent antioxidant.

New research appears to be confirming this theory. Pterostilbene (pronounced TARE-oh-STILL-bean), a powerful antioxidant compound found in cranberries, which is already known to fight cancer, may also help lower cholesterol.

In an experimental study, scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service compared the cholesterol-lowering effects of pterostilbene to those of ciprofibrate, a lipid-lowering drug, and resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes with a chemical structure similar to pterostilbene that has been shown to help fight cancer and heart disease.

They based their comparison on each compound’s ability to activate PPAR-alpha (short for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha). The PPARs are a family of receptors on cell membranes that are involved in the absorption of compounds into cells for use in energy production. PPAR-alpha is crucial for the metabolism of lipids, including cholesterol.

Pterostilbene was as effective as ciprofibrate and outperformed resveratrol in activating PPAR-alpha. The take away message: turn up your cholesterol burning machinery by eating more cranberries. (Grapes and blueberries are also good sources of pterostilbene.)

Increases Cardio-Protective HDL Cholesterol

Having low blood levels of “good” HDL cholesterol has long been recognized as a factor that increases risk of cardiovascular disease, but something as simple as enjoying a daily 8-ounce glass of low-calorie cranberry juice may significantly increase blood levels of cardioprotective HDL cholesterol, suggests a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Ruel G., Omperleau S, et al.)

In this trial, 30 abdominally obese men, averaging 51 years in age, drank increasing amounts (4 ounces, 8 ounces and 12 ounces daily) of low-calorie cranberry juice during three successive 4-week periods.

While no changes in the men’s HDL were noted after drinking 4 ounces of cranberry juice each day, a large increase (+8.6%) in circulating levels of HDL was noted after the men drank 8-ounces of cranberry juice daily, an effect that leveled out (+8.1%) during the final 12-ounce phase of the study.

After drinking 8 ounces of cranberry juice daily, the men’s triglyceride levels also dropped, while their levels of total and LDL cholesterol remained unchanged, which means that overall, their overall lipid profile significantly improved.

The researchers chose abdominally obese men because, in other research (Farnier M, Garnier P, et al., Int J Clin Pract), abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and being male, have been strongly linked to low HDL and cardiovascular disease.

Abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol are also key symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, a condition which greatly increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And type 2 diabetes is well known to be a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death not only in the U.S., but throughout the developed world. So, the subjects in this study were men whose health was greatly at risk. Isn’t it wonderful that something as simple, affordable and delicious as a daily 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice offers such potential beneficial impact on our health? Instead of buying the “low-calorie” cranberry juice, which is usually sweetened with aspartame or comparable chemicals, look for unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate. It will be less expensive and healthier to simply add a little concentrate to a glass of water, then sweeten to taste with honey or stevia.

Cranberry Juice Greatly Lessens Oxidation of LDL Cholesterol in Men
In men, daily consumption of low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail significantly lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL and concentrations of two molecules involved in LDL’s adherence to blood vessel walls (intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). Thirty men (mean age 51) drank increasing daily doses of cranberry juice cocktail (4.4 ounces, 8.8 ounces and 17.6 ounces) over three successive 4 week periods. Blood levels of oxidized LDL, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 all dropped significantly during the study. Br J Nutr. 2007 Aug 29:1-8.

Improved Blood Vessel Function, Protecting Even Individuals with Atherosclerosis against Heart Attacks

A daily dose of cranberry powder restores blood vessel health in laboratory animals with atherosclerosis, shows research presented at the 2005 annual congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences.

Earlier small studies have already demonstrated that people who drink cranberry juice have higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. The new study examined blood vessel health in animals specially bred to develop high cholesterol, followed by atherosclerosis, by eight months of age.

Study results suggest that cranberries not only reduce the risk of developing heart disease by improving HDL cholesterol levels, but also improve blood vessel function, so can help individuals who already have atherosclerosis.

“Since the abnormal functioning of blood vessels is an important component of heart disease, finding ways to improve vascular function in patients with high cholesterol and atherosclerosis is critical to helping protect these patients from consequences such as heart attack or stroke,” said lead researcher Kris Kruse-Elliott from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Researchers think cranberries’ polyphenols are responsible for their cardiovascular benefits. While humans would need to eat four to eight servings of cranberry powder, or 10-20 servings of cranberry juice, in order to achieve the levels of polyphenols given the animals in the study, co-author Jess Reed said: “The point to be emphasized is that total polyphenol intake is very low in western diets and a diet rich in polyphenols would in fact give a daily intake that is equivalent to the levels in our cranberry feeding experiments.”

Increasing the polyphenol content of your diet is easy-just make the World’s Healthiest Foods the foundation of your meals! In addition to making the most of fresh cranberries around Thanksgiving when they’re in season (see our recipe suggestions below), enjoy a glass of cranberry juice with breakfast or try a cranberry spritzer for a refreshing pick-me-up any time of day.

Antioxidant Protection

Studies conducted at the University of Scranton, PA, and funded by the Cranberry Institute, a trade association for cranberry growers in the US and Canada, have revealed cranberries to be phytochemical powerhouses packed with five times the antioxidant content of broccoli. When compared to 19 other common fruits, cranberries were found to contain the highest level of antioxidant phenols.

Other studies presented at the 223rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society also showed that cranberries have among the highest levels of phenols of commonly consumed fruits. One study presented at the meetings by biochemist Yuegang Zuo from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth looked at 20 different fruit juices and found that cranberry juice had the most phenols and the highest radical scavenging capacity of all of them.

Another study to compare levels of phenolic compounds in common fruits, which was conducted at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry also confirmed that cranberries had the highest phenolic content of the fruits studied. Cranberries were followed in descending order by apple, red grape, strawberry, pineapple, banana, peach, lemon, orange, pear and grapefruit.

Cranberry Juice Ranked Among the Highest in Antioxidant Activity

Not all fruit juices are the same. They differ markedly in the variety of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity, according to Alan Crozier, Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Human Nutrition, who, with colleagues at the University of Glasgow, evaluated 13 commercially available popular juices.

Concord grapes came out on top with the highest and broadest range of polyphenols and the highest overall antioxidant capacity. (The main components in purple grape juice were flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, and hydroxycinnamates, together accounting for 93% of the total phenolic content.)

Other top scorers were cloudy apple juice, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice.

Results for the red grape juice were said to be equal to those for a Beaujolais red wine. Interestingly, however, white grape juice, mainly containing hydroxycinnamates, had the lowest total phenolic content.

The products analyzed were: Spray Classic Cranberry; Welch’s Purple Grape; Tesco Pure Pressed Red Grape; Pomegreat Pomegranate; Tesco Pure Apple (clear); Copella Apple (cloudy); Tesco Pure Grapefruit; Tesco Value Pure Orange (concentrate); Tropicana Pure Premium Smooth Orange (squeezed); Tropicana Pure Premium Tropical Fruit; Tesco Pure Pressed White Grape; Tesco Pure Pineapple; Del Monte Premium Tomato.

Dr. Crozier’s findings come shortly after those of the Kame project, which indicated that long-term fruit juice consumption can provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease (Dai et al., Am J Med), and suggest that, since each fruit juice contains its own array of protective phenols, drinking a variety may offer the best protection. Practical Tip: “The message is to mix these juices during the week. That way you will get all the compounds with anti-oxidant activity. If you drink only one juice you risk missing out on the compounds in the others,” explained Crozier.

Cancer Prevention

Also at the 2002 national meeting of the American Chemical Society, Catherine Neto, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, presented research on several newly discovered compounds in cranberries that were toxic to a variety of cancer tumor cell lines, including lung, cervical, prostate, breast and leukemia cancer cells. The Cornell study mentioned above that confirmed cranberries as having the highest levels of antioxidants among common fruits also found that cranberries had the strongest ability to inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells.

The compounds found in cranberries that help prevent urinary tract infections may also help prevent cancer, suggests additional research conducted at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth by Catherine Neto and reported in the online edition of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Neto’s team isolated active cranberry compounds, called proanthocyanidins, and then tested them on several tumor cell lines. Cranberry proanthocyanidins inhibited the growth of all the cancers-human lung, colon and leukemia cells-in culture, without affecting healthy cells.

Unlike most fruit, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins with A-type linkages between units, a structural feature identified in cranberry proanthocyanidins with antibacterial adhesion properties and those with LDL-protective properties, explained lead researcher, Catherine Neto.

Cranberries’ proanthocyanidins unique characteristics may translate into a superior ability to prevent cancer. This study showed significant inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, not previously shown with other proanthocyanidins, as well as the blocking of tumor growth.

The protective activity occurred at no less than 100ug/mL concentration. “It’s hard to say whether you would get these levels distributed to different tissues to the extent where you would have activity in vivo, but eating cranberries could be helpful,” said Neto.

“There are so many compounds in cranberries capable of having some anti-cancer mechanism that when taken together there is potential for benefit,” she added.

For cancer prevention, enjoy whole cranberries, not just cranberry juice. Cranberry presscake (the material remaining after squeezing juice from the berries), when fed to laboratory animals bearing human breast cancer cells, has previously been shown to decrease the growth and metastasis of tumors. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests compounds in whole cranberries also inhibit prostate, skin, lung and brain cancer cells as well.

Androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells were inhibited the most (just 10 mg of a warm water extract of cranberry presscake inhibited their growth by 50%). With androgen-independent prostate cancer cells and estrogen-independent breast cancer cells, a larger amount was needed but produced the same beneficial effect (250 mg of cranberry presscake extract inhibited their growth by 50%).

Researchers concluded that the active compounds in whole cranberry prevent cancer by blocking cell cycle progression and inducing cells to undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Cranberry’s Phytonutrients Help Shut Down Human Breast Cancer Cells

Enjoying a handful of dried cranberries in your spinach salad or a daily glass of cranberry juice with a meal may be a delicious way to help protect yourself against breast cancer. In laboratory studies published in Cancer Letters, cranberry phytonutrients greatly inhibited proliferation of human breast cancer cells, both by causing the cancer cells to commit suicide and by shutting down their ability to multiply by stopping their process of cellular replication before its completion.

After just 4 hours’ exposure to cranberry phytonutrient extracts at the low dose of just 50 milligrams per milliliter, the ratio of breast cancer cells committing suicide to total cells increased 25% compared to control cells not exposed to cranberry phytonutrients. Cranberry phytonutrient extracts at doses from 10 to 50 milligrams per milliliter were also highly effective in stopping breast cancer cells from multiplying. After 24 hours, cancer cell replication was 6 times higher in the control breast cancer cells than in those exposed to cranberry extracts.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but by simply topping off a cup of yogurt or green salad with a half cup of cranberries, tossing a banana into your morning smoothie or slicing it over your cereal, and snacking on an apple, plum, nectarine or pear, you’ve reached this goal.

Safety

Cranberries and Oxalates

Cranberries are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating cranberries. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits – including absorption of calcium – from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a healthcare practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content. For more on this subject, please see “Can you tell me what oxalates are and in which foods they can be found?”

Cranberries and Warfarin

Since 1999, the United Kingdom’s Committee on the Safety of Medicines has had 5 reports of cases (one fatal) that indicate that cranberry juice (from Vaccinium macrocarpon) potentiates the effect of warfarin. Some patients exhibited a marked increase in their INR (international normalised ratios) values after they began to drink cranberry juice. INRs provide a measure of blood clotting capacity, and high values are associated with serious bleeding. In the one fatal case, six weeks after a man started drinking cranberry juice, his INR increased sharply, and he subsequently died from gastrointestinal and pericardial haemorrhages.

The Committee on the Safety of Medicines has hypothesized that flavonoid antioxidants in cranberry juice inhibit the activity of one of the cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver that is primarily responsible for detoxifying warfarin, the isoform called CYP2C9. Until this possible interaction between warfarin and cranberry juice has been investigated further, the individuals taking warfarin are advised to avoid cranberry juice.

At least 12 reports of suspected interactions involving warfarin and cranberry juice have now been made to the Committee on the Safety of Medicines in Great Britain. In Current Problems in Pharmacovigilance, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency issued a recommendation that patients using warfarin should be advised to avoid cranberry juice.

Nutritional Profile

Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of dietary fiber, and a good source of manganese and vitamin K.

Blueberry
Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath family, which includes the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy “bloom” that covers the surface serving as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds.

Health Benefits

Blueberries are literally bursting with nutrients and flavor, yet very low in calories. Recently, researchers at Tufts University analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability. Blueberries came out on top, rating highest in their capacity to destroy free radicals.

An Antioxidant Powerhouse

Packed with antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins, the blue-red pigments found in blueberries, improve the integrity of support structures in the veins and entire vascular system. Anthocyanins have been shown to enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillary integrity, and stabilize the collagen matrix (the ground substance of all body tissues). They work their protective magic by preventing free-radical damage, inhibiting enzymes from cleaving the collagen matrix, and directly cross-linking with collagen fibers to form a more stable collagen matrix.

Cardioprotective Action
While wine, particularly red wine, is touted as cardioprotective since it is a good source of antioxidant anthocyanins, a recent study found that blueberries deliver 38% more of these free radical fighters. In this study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers found that a moderate drink (about 4 ounces) of white wine contained .47 mmol of free radical absorbing antioxidants, red wine provided 2.04 mmol, and a wine made from highbush blueberries delivered 2.42 mmol of these protective plant compounds.

A Visionary Fruit

Extracts of bilberry (a cousin of blueberry) have been shown in numerous studies to improve nighttime visual acuity and promote quicker adjustment to darkness and faster restoration of visual acuity after exposure to glare. This research was conducted to evaluate claims of bilberry’s beneficial effects on night vision made by British Air Force pilots during World War II who regularly consumed bilberry preserves before their night missions.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but by simply topping off a cup of yogurt or green salad with a half cup of blueberries, tossing a banana into your morning smoothie or slicing it over your cereal, and snacking on an apple, plum, nectarine or pear, you’ve reached this goal.

A Better Brain with Blueberries

In laboratory animal studies, researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Researchers found that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging animals, making them mentally equivalent to much younger ones.

Promotion of Gastrointestinal Health

In addition to their powerful anthocyanins, blueberries contain another antioxidant compound called ellagic acid, which blocks metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. In a study of over 1,200 elderly people, those who ate the most strawberries (another berry that contains ellagic acid) were three times less likely to develop cancer than those who ate few or no strawberries. In addition to containing ellagic acid, blueberries are high in the soluble fiber pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and to prevent bile acid from being transformed into a potentially cancer-causing form.

Protection against Colon Cancer

Laboratory studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry show that phenolic compounds in blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Extracts were made of the blueberry phenols, which were freeze-dried and further separated into phenolic acids, tannins, flavonols, and anthocyanins. Then the dried extracts and fractions were added to cell cultures containing two colon cancer cell lines, HT-29 and Caco-2.

In concentrations normally found in laboratory animal plasma after eating blueberries, anthyocyanin fractions increased DNA fragmentation (a sign that apoptosis or cell death had been triggered) by 2-7 times. Flavonol and tannin fractions cut cell proliferation in half at concentrations of 70-100 and 50-100 microg/mL, while the phenolic fraction was also effective, but less potent, reducing proliferation by half at concentrations of 1000 microg/mL. Bottomline: eating blueberries may reduce colon cancer risk.

Protection against Ovarian Cancer

Among their rich supply of phytonutrients, blueberries include a flavonoid called kaempferol. Research calculating flavonoid intake in 66,940 women enrolled in the Nurses Health Study between 1984 and 2002 revealed that women whose diets provided the most kaempferol had a 40% reduction in risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women eating the least kaempferol-rich foods. In addition to blueberries, foods richest in kaempferol include tea (nonherbal), onions, curly kale, leeks, spinach, and broccoli.

A significant 34% reduction in ovarian cancer risk was also seen in women with the highest intake of the flavone luteolin (found in citrus). Int J Cancer. 2007 Apr 30; Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;79(5):727-47.

Healthier Elimination

Blueberries can help relieve both diarrhea and constipation. In addition to soluble and insoluble fiber, blueberries also contain tannins, which act as astringents in the digestive system to reduce inflammation. Blueberries also promote urinary tract health. Blueberries contain the same compounds found in cranberries that help prevent or eliminate urinary tract infections. In order for bacteria to infect, they must first adhere to the mucosal lining of the urethra and bladder. Components found in cranberry and blueberry juice reduce the ability of E. coli, the bacteria that is the most common cause of urinary tract infections, to adhere.

Safety

Blueberries and Oxalates

Blueberries are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating blueberries. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits -including absorption of calcium-from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a healthcare practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content. For more on this subject, please see “Can you tell me what oxalates are and in which foods they can be found?”

Nutritional Profile

Blueberries are phytonutrient superstars. These fruits contain significant amounts of anthocyanadins, antioxidant compounds that give blue, purple and red colors to fruits and vegetables. In addition, blueberries also contain ellagic acid, another phytochemical that has been shown to prevent cell damage.

Blueberries are a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, and both soluble and insoluble fiber like pectin. Blueberries are also a good source of vitamin E.

Strawberry
hile there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has yellow seeds piercing its surface, and the small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. In addition to strawberries that are cultivated, there are also varieties that grow wild. These are much smaller in size, but feature a more intense flavor.

Health Benefits

Strawberries not only look like a fruity heart-shaped valentine, they are filled with unusual phytonutrients that love to promote your health.

Potent Antioxidant Protection from Phenols

Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich surce of phenols. In the strawberry, these phenols are led by the anthocyanins (especially anthocyanin 2) and by the ellagitannins. The anthocyanins in strawberry not only provide its flush red color, they also serve as potent antioxidants that have repeatedly been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body’s organ systems. Strawberries’ unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberry include the ability of phenols in this fruit to lessen activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase, or COX. Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen block pain by blocking this enzyme, whose overactivity has been shown to contribute to unwanted inflammation, such as that which is involved in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Unlike drugs that are COX-inhibitors, however, strawberries do not cause intestinal bleeding.

Strawberry Phytonutrients that Promote Optimal Health

The ellagitannin content of strawberries has actually been associated with decreased rates of cancer death. In one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most linked to lower rates of cancer deaths among a group of over 1,000 elderly people. Those eating the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer compared to those eating few or no strawberries.
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed eight strawberry cultivars for their content of protective plant compounds (phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins) and their antioxidant capacities. Although the various cultivars differed significantly in the amounts of the various beneficial compounds each contained, all cultivars (Earliglow, Annapolis, Evangeline, Allstar, Sable, Sparkle, Jewel, and Mesabi) were able to significantly inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells. nterestingly, no relationship was found between a cultivar’s antioxidant content and its ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, which suggests that this beneficial effect of strawberries is caused by other actions of their many beneficial compounds.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but strawberries can help you reach this goal. Top your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh strawberries. Dress up any green salad with sliced strawberries, slivered almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar. For an easy, elegant dessert, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with a spoonful of honey and some soy or cow’s milk or yogurt. Freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint.

Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis

While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects and focused on who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and similar subjects who remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

In terms of traditional nutrients, strawberries emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They also qualified as a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine as well as a good source of potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, and copper.

Safety

Allergic Reactions to Strawberries

Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others. It turns out that strawberries are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions. Other foods commonly associated with allergic reactions include: cow’s milk, wheat, soy, shrimp, oranges, eggs, chicken, spinach, tomato, peanuts, pork, corn and beef. These foods do not need to be eaten in their pure, isolated form in order to trigger an adverse reaction. For example, yogurt made from cow’s milk is also a common allergenic food, even though the cow’s milk has been processed and fermented in order to make the yogurt. Ice cream made from cow’s milk would be an equally good example.

Some of the most common symptoms for food allergies include eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity and insomnia. Individuals who suspect food allergy to be an underlying factor in their health problems may want to avoid commonly allergenic foods.

Strawberries and Pesticide Residues

Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2006 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” strawberries are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of strawberries unless they are grown organically.

Strawberries and Oxalates

Strawberries are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating strawberries. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits-including absorption of calcium-from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a healthcare practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content. For more on this subject, please see “Can you tell me what oxalates are and in which foods they can be found?”

Strawberries and Goitrogens
Strawberries contains goitrogens, naturally-occurring substances in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Individuals with already existing and untreated thyroid problems may want to avoid strawberries for this reason. Cooking may help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food. However, it is not clear from the research exactly what percent of goitrogenic compounds get inactivated by cooking, or exactly how much risk is involved with the consumption of strawberries by individuals with pre-existing and untreated thyroid problems. For more on this subject, please see “What are goitrogens and in which foods are they found?”

Nutritional Profile

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine. Plus, strawberries are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and vitamin K.

Strawberries also contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagic acid.

Blackberry
Blackberry (subgenus Eubatus) belongs to Rosaceae family, closely related to strawberry in the subfamily Rosoideae. Its bark of the root and leaves contains high contents of tannin. This bark is believed to have health benefits on dysentery and diarrhea.

It fruits are aggregate fruits, which means they are formed by the aggregation of several smaller fruits, called drupelets. The drupelets are all attached to a receptacle, and this receptacle is the fibrous central core of the fruit. [2] These drupelets contain malic and citric acid, pectin and albumin. [1]

RESEARCH STUDIES

Researchers determined quantitatively on the flavonoids, tannins and ellagic acid in the leaves from wild and cultivated variations of Rubus L. species (Rosaceae): raspberry (2 wild and 13 cultivars) and blackberry (3 wild and 3 cultivars). They found that flavonoid content was higher for the blackberry leaves than for the raspberry leaves and varied between 0.46% and 1.05%. They also found that all the samples had high contents of quercetin, kaempferol, ellagic acid and tannins.

ANTI-OXIDANT CONTENT

Oxidative damage is related to the development of several diseases. An improved antioxidant defense may therefore protect against these diseases. Recent studies have demonstrated that blackberry contains various antioxidants. These antioxidants may represent an important contribution to blackberry health benefits.

In an in vitro study, scientists assessed the total amount of antioxidants in blackberry by the “ferric-reducing ability of plasma” assay, a method that measures the sum total of all antioxidants above a reference redox potential. The results are in accordance with studies in experimental animals demonstrating beneficial effect against some chronic diseases. [3] In a study of 11 cultivars, researchers found huge variation of the antioxidants among these 11 cultivars. Total anthocyanins for 11 blackberry cultivars ranged from 131 to 256 mg/100 g FW (mean = 198), total phenolics ranged from 682 to 1056 mg GAE/100 g FW (mean = 900), oxygen radical absorbance capacity ranged from 37.6 to 75.5 micromol TE/g FW (mean = 50.2), and ferric reducing antioxidant power ranged from 63.5 to 91.5 micromol TE/g FW (mean = 77.5). In addition, their total antioxidant activity was found to increase with ripening. Total anthocyanin pigments increased from 74.7 to 317 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW) from under-ripe to overripe for Marion blackberries and from 69.9 to 164 mg/100 g FW for Evergreen blackberries. [4]

INFLAMMATION PROTECTION

Researchers have investigated the therapeutic efficacy of anthocyanins contained in blackberry extract (cyanidin-3-O-glucoside represents about 80% of the total anthocyanin contents) in an experimental model of lung inflammation induced by carrageenan in rats.
They found that anthocyanins (10, 30 mg kg(-1) 30 min before carrageenan) could attenuated all parameters of inflammation in a dose-dependent manner. Thus, the beneficial effects of blackberry may be related to its strong anti-oxidant activities. [7]

ANTI-BACTERIAL ACTIVITIES

Researchers found that commercial blackberry may have benefits on fighting bacteria. Commercial blackberry cordials inhibited the growth of Mycobacterium phlei while the fresh blackberry inhibited the growth of varying numbers of bacteria. [8]

BENEFITS ON ENDOTHELIAL DYSFUNCTIONS

Italian researchers demonstrated that cyanidin-3-O-glucoside represents about 80% of the total anthocyanin contents in blackberry extract using  HPLC/ESI/MS. They found that that cyanidin-3-O-glucoside of the blackberry juice is a scavenger of peroxynitrite and that exert a protective benefits against endothelial dysfunction and vascular failure induced by peroxynitrite. [9]

PHARMACOKINETICS
Anthocyanins are absorbed in stomach and small intestine. However, anthocyanins are quickly metabolized and excreted into bile and urine as intact glycosides as well as methylated forms and glucuronidated derivatives. [6]

Bilberry
Potential Health Benefits of Bilberry Fruit

Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent a number of long-term illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and an eye disorder called macular degeneration. Bilberry also contains vitamin C, which is another antioxidant.

Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent a number of long-term illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and an eye disorder called macular degeneration. Bilberry also contains vitamin C, which is another antioxidant.

Often associated with improvement of night vision, bilberries are mentioned in a popular story of World War II RAF pilots consuming bilberry jam to sharpen vision for night missions.

Diabetes

Bilberry leaves have traditionally been used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Animal studies suggest bilberry may be effective, but no human studies have been done, so bilberry is not recommended for this use.

Atherosclerosis

Animal studies have found that anthocyanosides may strengthen blood vessels, improve circulation, and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis (plaque that blocks blood vessels, leading to heart attack and stroke). Research in people is needed.

Diarrhea and wounds

Bilberry has been used in European medicine for nearly a thousand years, primarily to treat diarrhea. The fruit contains tannins, substances that act as both an anti-inflammatory and an astringent (constricting and tightening tissues). Bilberry is believed to help people with diarrhea by reducing intestinal inflammation. No studies, however, examine bilberry’s use for diarrhea.

Vision

Anthocyanosides found in bilberry fruits may also be useful for people with vision problems. During World War II, British fighter pilots reported improved nighttime vision after eating bilberry jam. Studies have shown mixed, mainly negative results, however. Bilberry has also been suggested as a treatment for retinopathy (damage to the retina) because anthocyanosides appear to help protect the retina. Bilberry has also been suggested as treatment to prevent cataracts. However, studies are lacking in both areas.


Cherry

CHERRY FRUIT and Health Benefits & Nutritional details
Cherries are one of today’s hottest “Super Fruits.” A growing body of science reveals tart cherries, enjoyed as dried and frozen cherries and cherry juice, have among the highest levels of powerful antioxidants compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times as much as blueberries or strawberries!) vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

They also contain Beta carotene, with sour cherries being shown to have more Beta carotene than sweet cherries. Cherry fruit have antioxidants like pectin and anthocyanins that have been linked to the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

One little known fact is that only two species of cherry fruit can be found in America, three can be found in Europe, and the remainder of the cherry species can be found in Asia.

Cherries have a very short fruiting season. In Australia they are usually at their peak around Christmas time. In Southern Europe and America, they are most ripe and at their peak in June. In the United Kingdom, they are ripe and ready to eat around mid July and during the summer season.

Emerging evidence links cherries to many important health benefits – from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries also have been found to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process.

A new study from the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Program suggests that a cherry-enriched diet may help reduce inflammation, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As science continues to reveal inflammation may be a marker for many chronic diseases, the researchers say emerging studies like this are important in examining the role diet may play in disease management and prevention.

The Cherry Fruit Facts:

* The Cherry fruit is known to grow in many areas of the United States. It is noticed that sweet cherries prove to be difficult to grow. Sour cherries are grown mainly in the Eastern side.
* Cherries are very easily perishable and they rarely ripen after harvest. Therefore, you need to refrigerate them soon after their purchase. These can remain fresh in the fridge for at least 2 days.
* The German word Kirsch-the cherry liqueur comes from the word karshu. This is the name given to the cherries that were first cultivated in Mesopotamia in 8 BC.
* Cherries are very versatile fruits and can be a part of any meal or dessert. From breakfast to soups and salads, these find their way into any food item easily! Being delicious, these can be frozen and devoured whenever you wish!
* Studies have shown the cherry fruit to have plenty of health benefits. These are known to provide pain relief for people who suffer from arthritis. It is said that eating 20 tart cherries in a day can prove to fight inflammation effectively.
* Red cherries are also very high in melatonin. These are known to destroy the toxins that cause diseases. The cherry fruit is also high in antioxidants that help to fight cancer and heart disease.
* The cherry fruits are low in cholesterol, fat and sodium. They are also a very good source of fiber and Vitamin C.
* Since the cherry fruit bruises easily, you need to handle them with care. When buying cherries, look for a bright color and those with a supple exterior. Cherries, which are plump and firm, are very good to taste. If you are looking for good quality cherries, try to go in for cherries with their green stems attached.
* Tart cherries and tart cherry juice are known to reduce the urate levels in the body. These are also known to reduce muscle pain and back pain. The benefits of tart cherries are also found even if they are frozen, in the form of juice or canned. Sweet cherries as well as tart cherries have very high levels of anthocyanins. This is the red pigment in the cherries, which helps to reduce the inflammation.
* Sweet as well as sour cherries can be used for jams. Sour cherries are used more often as an ingredient in pies and are suitable for making soufflés, cooked fruit compotes etc.
* Cherries are also known to have a very short fruiting season. It is during the Christmas time, one sees these plants at their peak, especially in Australia. Areas of Northern America see these cherries as the first ones to ripen amongst other trees; therefore the term ‘in cherry condition’ has been derived which means something new.
* Michigan has around 35,000 acres of tart cherry trees. This place grows almost 75% of the tart cherries, which are produced in the United States. The Traverse City is therefore called the Cherry Capital of the World. The sweet cherries are grown in large numbers in Washington.
* The cherry fruit extract contains antioxidant flavanoids and are used in many tablets and capsules. These capsules are used to support the pH levels of the body.

Apricot
Relatives to peaches, apricots are small, golden orange fruits, with velvety skin and flesh, not too juicy but definitely smooth and sweet. Some describe their flavor as almost musky, with a faint tartness that lies somewhere between a peach and a plum.

Health Benefits

Nutrients in apricots can help protect the heart and eyes, as well as provide the disease-fighting effects of fiber. The high beta-carotene and lycopene activity of apricots makes them important heart health foods. Both beta-carotene and lycopene protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may help prevent heart disease.

Apricots contain nutrients such as vitamin A that promote good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, quenches free radical damage to cells and tissues. Free radical damage can injure the eyes’ lenses.

The degenerative effect of free radicals, or oxidative stress, may lead to cataracts or damage the blood supply to the eyes and cause macular degeneration. Researchers who studied over 50,000 registered nurses found women who had the highest vitamin A intake reduced their risk of developing cataracts nearly 40%.

Apricots are a good source of fiber, which has a wealth of benefits including preventing constipation and digestive conditions such as diverticulosis. But most Americans get less than 10 grams of fiber per day. A healthy, whole foods diet should include apricots as a delicious way to add to your fiber intake.

Protect Your Eyesight

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 100,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease.

Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but by simply tossing a banana into your morning smoothie or slicing it over your cereal, topping off a cup of yogurt or green salad with a half cup of berries, and snacking on an apricot, you’ve reached this goal.

Protection against Prostate Cancer

Apricots are a rich source of the carotenoid, lycopene. Choosing to eat lycopene-rich foods and regularly drink green tea may greatly reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, suggests research published the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH, et al.)

In this case-control study involving 130 prostate cancer patients and 274 hospital controls, men drinking the most green tea were found to have an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared, to those drinking the least.

A similar inverse association was found between the men’s consumption of lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava. Men who most frequently enjoyed these foods were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to those consuming the least lycopene-rich foods.

Regular consumption of both green tea and foods rich in lycopene resulted in a synergistic protective effect, stronger than the protection afforded by either, the researchers also noted.

Practical Tips: Get in the habit of drinking green tea and eating lycopene-rich foods.

* Take a quart of iced green tea to work and sip throughout the day or take it to the gym to provide prostate protection while replenishing fluids after your workout.
* Pack a ziploc bag of apricots and almonds in your briefcase or gym bag for a handy snack.
* Start your breakfast with a half grapefruit or a glass of apricot, papaya or guava juice.
* Add chopped apricots to rice or bean salads.
* Begin lunch or dinner with some spicy tomato juice on the rocks with a twist of lime. Snack on tomato crostini: in the oven, toast whole wheat bread till crusty, then top with tomato sauce, herbs, a little grated cheese, and reheat until the cheese melts.
* Top whole wheat pasta with olive oil, pine nuts, feta cheese and a rich tomato sauce for lunch or dinner.

Dried Apricots and Sulfites

Commercially grown dried apricots may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing. They may also be treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life.

Sulfur-containing compounds are often added to dried foods like apricots as preservatives to help prevent oxidation and bleaching of colors. The sulfites used to help preserve dried apricots cause adverse reactions in an estimated one out of every 100 people, who turn out to be sulfite sensitive.

Sulfite reactions can be particularly acute in people who suffer from asthma. The Federal Food and Drug Administration estimates that 5 percent of asthmatics may suffer a reaction when exposed to sulfites. Instead of the bright orange color of sulfite-treated dried apricots, unsulfured dried apricots have brown color, but are a much healthier choice for sulfite-sensitive individuals.

Foods that are classified as “organic” do not contain sulfites since federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically grown or produced foods. Therefore, concern about sulfite exposure is yet another reason to purchase organic foods.

Nutritional Profile

Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a very good source of vitamin C, and a good source of dietary fiber and potassium.

Apricots contain phytochemicals called carotenoids, compounds that give red, orange and yellow colors to fruits and vegetables. The powerful antioxidant Lycopene is one of the carotenoids found in apricots.

Papaya
Papayas are spherical or pear-shaped fruits that can be as long as 20 inches. The ones commonly found in the market usually average about 7 inches and weigh about one pound. Their flesh is a rich orange color with either yellow or pink hues. Inside the inner cavity of the fruit are black, round seeds encased in a gelatinous-like substance. Papaya’s seeds are edible, although their peppery flavor is somewhat bitter. The fruit, as well as the other parts of the papaya tree, contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is especially concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe. Papain is extracted to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements and is also used as an ingredient in some chewing gums.

Health Benefits

Papayas offer not only the luscious taste and sunlit color of the tropics, but are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids; the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid; and the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and fiber. Together, these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and also provide protection against colon cancer. In addition, papaya contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which is used like bromelain, a similar enzyme found in pineapple, to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma, and allergies.

Protection Against Heart Disease

Papayas may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin E and vitamin A (through their concentration of pro-vitamin A carotenoid phytonutrients), three very powerful antioxidants.

These nutrients help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Only when cholesterol becomes oxidized is it able to stick to and build up in blood vessel walls, forming dangerous plaques that can eventually cause heart attacks or strokes. One way in which dietary vitamin E and vitamin C may exert this effect is through their suggested association with a compound called paraoxonase, an enzyme that inhibits LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol oxidation.

Papayas are also a good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels. The folic acid found in papayas is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine into benign amino acids such as cysteine or methionine. If unconverted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls and, if levels get too high, is considered a significant risk factor for a heart attack or stroke.

Promotes Digestive Health

The nutrients in papaya have also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer. Papaya’s fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. In addition, papaya’s folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E have each been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

These nutrients provide synergistic protection for colon cells from free radical damage to their DNA. Increasing your intake of these nutrients by enjoying papaya is an especially good idea for individuals at risk of colon cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Papaya contains several unique protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain. These enzymes have been shown to help lower inflammation and to improve healing from burns. In addition, the antioxidant nutrients found in papaya, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, are also very good at reducing inflammation. This may explain why people with diseases that are worsened by inflammation, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, find that the severity of their condition is reduced when they get more of these nutrients.

Immune Support

Vitamin C and vitamin A, which is made in the body from the beta-carotene in papaya, are both needed for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Papaya may therefore be a healthy fruit choice for preventing such illnesses as recurrent ear infections, colds and flu.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily. In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but papaya can help you reach this goal. Add slices of fresh papaya to your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or green salads. Cut a papaya in half and fill with cottage cheese, crab, shrimp or tuna salad. For an elegant meal, place slices of fresh papaya over any broiled fish.

Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis

While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as papaya, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.

The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects and focused on subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and similar subjects who remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

Promote Lung Health

If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as papaya, part of your healthy way of eating may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University.

While studying the relationship between vitamin A, lung inflammation, and emphysema, Richard Baybutt, associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State, made a surprising discovery: a common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, induces vitamin A deficiency.

Baybutt’s earlier research had shown that laboratory animals fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema. His latest animal studies indicate that not only does the benzo(a)pyrene in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, but that a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, thus greatly reducing emphysema.

Baybutt believes vitamin A’s protective effects may help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema. “There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers,” he said. “Why? Probably because of their diet…The implications are that those who start smoking at an early age are more likely to become vitamin A deficient and develop complications associated with cancer and emphysema. And if they have a poor diet, forget it.” If you or someone you love smokes, or if your work necessitates exposure to second hand smoke, protect yourself by making sure that at least one of the World’s Healthiest Foods that are rich in vitamin A, such as papaya, is a daily part of your healthy way of eating.

Papaya and Green Tea Team Up to Prevent Prostate Cancer

Choosing to regularly eat lycopene-rich fruits, such as papaya, and drink green tea may greatly reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, suggests research published the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH, et al.)

In this case-control study involving 130 prostate cancer patients and 274 hospital controls, men drinking the most green tea were found to have an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared, to those drinking the least.

A similar inverse association was found between the men’s consumption of lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava. Men who most frequently enjoyed these foods were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to those consuming the least lycopene-rich foods.

Regular consumption of both green tea and foods rich in lycopene resulted in a synergistic protective effect, stronger than the protection afforded by either, the researchers also noted.

Practical Tips: Get in the habit of drinking green tea and eating lycopene-rich foods.

* Take a quart of iced green tea to work and sip throughout the day or take it to the gym to provide prostate protection while replenishing fluids after your workout.
* Pack a ziploc bag of apricots and almonds in your briefcase or gym bag for a handy snack.
* Start your breakfast with a half grapefruit or a glass of papaya or guava juice.
* Add papaya to any smoothie or fruit salad or use as a delectable garnish for fish.
* For a delicious summer lunch, cut a papaya in half, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with lime juice and top with cottage cheese, a fresh mint leaf, and roasted almonds.
* Begin lunch or dinner with some spicy tomato juice on the rocks with a twist of lime. Snack on tomato crostini: in the oven, toast whole wheat bread till crusty, then top with tomato sauce, herbs, a little grated cheese, and reheat until the cheese melts.
* Top whole wheat pasta with olive oil, pine nuts, feta cheese and a rich tomato sauce for lunch or dinner.

Safety

Papayas and Latex Allergy

Like avocados and bananas, papayas contain substances called chitinases that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. There is strong evidence of the cross-reaction between latex and these foods. If you have a latex allergy, you may very likely be allergic to these foods as well. Processing the fruit with ethylene gas increases these enzymes; organic produce not treated with gas will have fewer allergy-causing compounds. In addition, cooking the food may deactivate the enzymes.

Nutritional Profile

Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is a very good source of folate and potassium. In addition, it is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin E, vitamin A and vitamin K.

Orange
Oranges are round citrus fruits with finely-textured skins that are, of course, orange in color just like their pulpy flesh; the skin can vary in thickness from very thin to very thick. Oranges usually range from approximately two to three inches in diameter.

Health Benefits

Oranges’ Healing Phytonutrients

In recent research studies, the healing properties of oranges have been associated with a wide variety of phytonutrient compounds. These phytonutrients include citrus flavanones (types of flavonoids that include the molecules hesperetin and naringenin), anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, and a variety of polyphenols. When these phytonutrients are studied in combination with oranges’ vitamin C, the significant antioxidant properties of this fruit are understandable.

But it is yet another flavanone in oranges, the herperidin molecule, which has been singled out in phytonutrient research on oranges. Arguably, the most important flavanone in oranges, herperidin has been shown to lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol in animal studies, and to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Importantly, most of this phytonutrient is found in the peel and inner white pulp of the orange, rather than in its liquid orange center, so this beneficial compound is too often removed by the processing of oranges into juice.

A Healthy Dose of Vitamin C for Antioxidant Protection and Immune Support

You may already know that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C-just one orange supplies 116.2% of the daily value for vitamin C-but do you know just how important vitamin C and oranges are for good health? Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage in the aqueous environment both inside and outside cells. Inside cells, a potential result of free radical damage to DNA is cancer. Especially in areas of the body where cellular turnover is especially rapid, such as the digestive system, preventing DNA mutations translates into preventing cancer. This is why a good intake of vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

Free radical damage to other cellular structures and other molecules can result in painful inflammation, as the body tries to clear out the damaged parts. Vitamin C, which prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, is thus also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Free radicals also oxidize cholesterol. Only after being oxidized does cholesterol stick to the artery walls, building up in plaques that may eventually grow large enough to impede or fully block blood flow, or rupture to cause a heart attack or stroke. Since vitamin C can neutralize free radicals, it can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.

Vitamin C, which is also vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system, is good for preventing colds and may be helpful in preventing recurrent ear infections.

A Glass of Orange Juice More Protective than Vitamin C Alone

Consuming vitamin C supplements does not provide the same protective benefits as drinking a glass of orange juice, shows research by Italian researchers in the Division of Human Nutrition at the University of Milan, Italy (Guarnieri S, Riso P, et al., British Journal of Nutrition).

Seven healthy test subjects were given each of three drinks, two weeks apart: blood-orange juice containing 150 milligrams of vitamin C, fortified water containing 150 milligrams of vitamin C, and a sugar and water solution containing no vitamin C. Blood samples were collected immediately before the drink was consumed, then every hour for 8 hours, and finally 24 hours after consumption of each drink.

Blood samples were exposed to hydrogen peroxide, and free radical damage to DNA was evaluated at 3 and 24 hours. Only when orange juice was consumed was any protective effect seen. After drinking orange juice, DNA damage was 18% less after 3 hours, and 16% less after 24 hours. No protection against DNA damage was seen after consumption of the vitamin C fortified drink or the sugar drink.

While another study, which looked at much larger quantities of vitamin C, did show a protective effect from the vitamin alone, this research indicates that not only is the protection afforded by fruit more complex, but smaller amounts of nutrients like vitamin C are all that are needed for benefit.

Said lead researcher, Serena Guarnieri, “It appears that vitamin C is not the only chemical responsible for antioxidant protection.” In oranges, vitamin C is part of a matrix involving many beneficial phytochemicals (for example, cyanidin-3-glucoside, flavanones and carotenoids).. “But how they are interacting is still anyone’s guess,” she added. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until scientists figure this out to receive oranges’ DNA-protective benefits. Practical Tip: For the best DNA protection, skip the vitamin C-fortified bottled drinks and enjoy a glass of real (preferably organic as organic foods have been shown to contain higher amounts of phytonutrients), freshly squeezed orange juice – or simply eat an orange!

Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Protection against Cardiovascular Disease

A 248-page report, “The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits,” released December 2003 by Australian research group, CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research), reviews 48 studies that show a diet high in citrus fruit provides a statistically significant protective effect against some types of cancer, plus another 21 studies showing a non-significant trend towards protection.

Citrus appears to offer the most significant protection against esophageal, oro-phayngeal/laryngeal (mouth, larynx and pharynx), and stomach cancers. For these cancers, studies showed risk reductions of 40 – 50%.

The World Health Organization’s recent draft report, “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Disease,” concludes that a diet that features citrus fruits also offers protection against cardiovascular disease due to citrus fruits’ folate, which is necessary for lowering levels of the cardiovascular risk factor, homocysteine; their, potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, protecting against stroke and cardiac arrhythmias; and the vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids found in citrus fruits, all of which have been identified as having protective cardiovascular effects.

One large US study reviewed in the CSIRO report showed that one extra serving of fruit and vegetables a day reduced the risk of stroke by 4%, and this increased by 5-6 times for citrus fruits, reaching a 19% reduction of risk for stroke from consuming one extra serving of citrus fruit a day.

The CSIRO Report also includes evidence of positive effects associated with citrus consumption in studies for arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, gallstones, multiple sclerosis, cholera, gingivitis, optimal lung function, cataracts, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Finally, the CSIRO Report notes that as low fat, nutrient-rich foods with a low glycemic index, citrus fruits are protective against overweight and obesity, conditions which increase the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, and add to symptoms of other conditions like arthritis.

An orange has over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have antiinflammatory, anti-tumour and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects.

Phytonutrients, specifically, the class of polyphenols, are high in citrus with oranges containing 84mg Gallic Acid equivalents/100mg. The polyphenols so abundant in oranges have been shown to have a wide range of antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-carcinogenic effects. Although most of the research has centered on citrus polyphenols’ possible role in cancer and heart disease, more recently, scientists have begun to look at their role in brain functions such as learning and memory.

An increasing number of studies have also shown a greater absorption of the nutrients in citrus when taken not as singly as supplements, but when consumed within the fruit in which they naturally appear along with all the other biologically active phytonutrients that citrus fruits contain. The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits,” released December 2003 by Australian research group, CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. If you would like to read more, click CSIRO.

Long-Acting Liminoids in Citrus Add to Their Ability to Promote Optimal Health

In animal studies and laboratory tests with human cells, compounds in citrus fruits, including oranges, called limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. Now, scientists from the US Agricultural Research Service have shown that our bodies can readily absorb and utilize a very long-acting limonoid called limonin that is present is citrus fruits in about the same amount as vitamin C.

In citrus fruits, limonin is present in the form of limonin glucoside, in which limonin is attached to a sugar (glucose) molecule. Our bodies easily digest this compound, cleaving off the sugar and releasing limonin.

In the ARS study, 16 volunteers were given a dose of limonin glucoside in amounts ranging from those that would be found in from 1 to 7 glasses of orange juice. Blood tests showed that limonin was present in the plasma of all except one of the subjects, with concentrations highest within 6 hours after consumption. Traces of limonin were still present in 5 of the volunteers 24 hours after consumption!

Limonin’s bioavailability and persistence may help explain why citrus limonoids are potent anti-carcinogens that may continuously prevent cancerous cells from proliferating. Other natural anti-carcinogens are available for much less time; for example, the phenols in green tea and chocolate remain active in the body for just 4 to 6 hours.

Possible Cholesterol-Lowering Benefits
The ARS team is now investigating the potential cholesterol-lowering effects of limonin. Lab tests indicate that human liver cells produce less apo B when exposed to limonin. Apo B is a structural protein that is part of the LDL cholesterol molecule and is needed for LDL production, transport and binding, so higher levels of apo B translate to higher levels of LDL cholesterol.

Compounds in Orange Peel May Lower Cholesterol as Effectively as Statin Drugs

A class of compounds found in citrus fruit peels called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) have the potential to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs, and without side effects, according to a study by U.S. and Canadian researchers that was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In this study, when laboratory animals with diet-induced high cholesterol were given the same diet containing 1% PMFs (mainly tangeretin), their blood levels of total cholesterol, VLDL and LDL (bad cholesterol) were reduced by 19-27 and 32-40% respectively. Comparable reductions were also seen when the animals were given diets containing a 3% mixture of two other citrus flavonones, hesperidin and naringin.

Treatment with PMFs did not appear to have any effect on levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, and no negative side effects were seen in the animals fed the PMF-containing diets.

Although a variety of citrus fruits contain PMFs, the most common PMFs, tangeretin and nobiletin, are found in the peels of tangerines and oranges. Juices of these fruits also contain PMFs, but in much smaller amounts. In fact, you’d have to drink about 20 glasses of juice each day to receive an amount of PMFs comparable in humans to that given to the animals. However, grating a tablespoon or so of the peel from a well-scrubbed organic tangerine or orange each day and using it to flavor tea, salads, salad dressings, yogurt, soups, or hot oatmeal, buckwheat or rice may be a practical way of achieving some cholesterol-lowering benefits. The researchers are currently exploring the mechanism of action by which PMFs lower cholesterol. Based on early results in cell and animal studies, they suspect that PMFs work like statin drugs, by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides inside the liver.

A Very Good Source of Fiber

Oranges’ health benefits continue with their fiber; a single orange provides 12.5% of the daily value for fiber, which has been shown to reduce high cholesterol levels thus helping to prevent atherosclerosis. Fiber can also help out by keeping blood sugar levels under control, which may help explain why oranges can be a very healthy snack for people with diabetes. In addition, the natural fruit sugar in oranges, fructose, can help to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high after eating. The fiber in oranges can grab cancer-causing chemicals and keep them away from cells of the colon, providing yet another line of protection from colon cancer. And the fiber in oranges may be helpful for reducing the uncomfortable constipation or diarrhea in those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition to oranges’ phytonutrients, vitamin C and fiber, they are a good source of thiamin, folate, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), potassium and calcium.

Prevent Kidney Stones
Want to reduce your risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones? Drink orange juice. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that when women drank ½ to 1 litre of orange, grapefruit or apple juice daily, their urinary pH value and citric acid excretion increased, significantly dropping their risk of forming calcium oxalate stones.

Help Prevent Ulcers and Reduce Risk for Stomach Cancer

An orange a day may help keep ulcers away, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. In this study, researchers evaluated data from over 6,000 adults enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Study participants with the highest blood levels of vitamin C had a 25% lower incidence of infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), the bacterium responsible for causing peptic ulcers and in turn, an increased risk for stomach cancer. Researchers are uncertain whether H. pylori lowers blood levels of vitamin C or if high blood levels of vitamin C help protect against infection-either way, eating an orange or drinking a glass of orange juice each day may help prevent gastric ulcers. Lead researcher in this study, Dr. Joel A. Simon at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, urges people who have tested positive for H. pylori to increase their consumption of vitamin C-rich foods since this may help them combat H. pylori infection.

Protect Respiratory Health
Consuming foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid found in highest amounts in oranges, corn, pumpkin, papaya, red bell peppers, tangerines, and peaches, may significantly lower one’s risk of developing lung cancer. A study published in the September 2003 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reviewed dietary and lifestyle data collected from over 60,000 adults in Shanghai, China. Those eating the most crytpoxanthin-rich foods showed a 27% reduction in lung cancer risk. When current smokers were evaluated, those who were also in the group consuming the most cryptoxanthin-rich foods were found to have a 37% lower risk of lung cancer compared to smokers who ate the least of these health-protective foods.

Protection Against Rheumatoid Arthritis

New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds to the evidence that enjoying a daily glass of freshly squeezed orange juice can significantly lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Data collected by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer Incidence (EPIC)-Norfolk study, a population-based, prospective study of over 25,000 subjects, showed that study participants with the highest daily intake of the carotenoids, zeaxanthin and Â-cryptoxanthin, had a much lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to individuals consuming the least of these beneficial phytonutrients. Those whose intake of zeaxanthin was highest were 52% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while those with the highest intake of cryptoxanthin had a 49% reduction in risk. Pretty dramatic benefits for doing something as simple as enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice each day!

Safety

Allergic Reactions to Oranges

Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others. It turns out that oranges are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions. Other foods commonly associated with allergic reactions include: cow’s milk, wheat, soy, shrimp, spinach, eggs, chicken, strawberries, tomato, peanuts, pork, corn and beef. These foods do not need to be eaten in their pure, isolated form in order to trigger an adverse reaction. For example, yogurt made from cow’s milk is also a common allergenic food, even though the cow’s milk has been processed and fermented in order to make the yogurt. Ice cream made from cow’s milk would be an equally good example.

Some of the most common symptoms for food allergies include eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity and insomnia. Individuals who suspect food allergy to be an underlying factor in their health problems may want to avoid commonly allergenic foods.

Nutritional Profile

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber. In addition, oranges are a good source of B vitamins including vitamin B1 and folate as well as vitamin A, calcium and potassium.

Grape
Grapes are small round or oval berries that feature semi-translucent flesh encased by a smooth skin. Some contain edible seeds while others are seedless. Like blueberries, grapes are covered by a protective, whitish bloom. Grapes that are eaten as is or used in a recipe are called table grapes as opposed to wine grapes (used in viniculture) or raisin grapes (used to make dried fruit).

Health Benefits

Grapes contain beneficial compounds called flavonoids, which are phytonutrients that give the vibrant purple color to grapes, grape juice and red wine; the stronger the color, the higher the concentration of flavonoids.

These flavonoid compounds include quercitin, as well as a second flavonoid-type compound (falling into the chemical category of stilbenes)called resveratrol. Both compounds appear to decrease the risk of heart disease by:

* Reducing platelet clumping and harmful blood clots
* Protecting LDL cholesterol from the free radical damage that initiates LDL’s artery-damaging actions

Grapes and products made from grapes, such as wine and grape juice, may protect the French from their high-fat diets. Diets high in saturated fats like butter and lard, and lifestyle habits like smoking are risk factors for heart disease. Yet, French people with these habits have a lower risk of heart attack than Americans do. One clue that may help explain this “French paradox” is their frequent consumption of grapes and red wines.

Protection Against Heart Disease

In a study in which blood samples were drawn from 20 healthy volunteers both before and after they drank grape juice, researchers found several beneficial effects from their juice consumption.

First, an increase occured in levels of nitric oxide, a compound produced in the body that helps reduce the formation of clots in blood vessels. Second, a decrease occurred in platelet aggregation, or blood clotting, by red blood cells. Lastly, researchers saw an increase in levels of alpha-tocopherol, an antioxidant compound that is a member of the vitamin E family, and this increase was accompanied by a 50% increase in plasma antioxidant activity.

These findings confirmed the benefits found in an earlier study, where researchers found not only an increase in blood antioxidant activity, but also discovered that grape juice protected LDL cholesterol from oxidation, a phenomenon that can turn LDL into an artery-damaging molecule. (Although LDL is often called the “bad” form of cholesterol, it is actually benign and only becomes harmful after it is damaged by free radicals or “oxidized.”

Additionally, investigators have found that phenolic compounds in grape skins inhibit protein tyrosine kinases, a group of enzymes that play a key role in cell regulation. Compounds that inhibit these enzymes also suppress the production of a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict, thus reducing the flow of oxygen to the heart. This protein, called endothelin-1, is thought to be a key contributing agent in the development of heart disease.

A study published in the journal Hypertension sheds new insight on the mechanisms of action through which resveratrol inhibits the production of the potent blood vessel constrictor, endothelin-1 (ET-1). Resveratrol appears to work at the genetic level, preventing the strain-induced expression of a gene that directs the production of ET-1. Normally, ET-1 is synthesized by endothelial cells (the cells comprising the lining of blood vessel walls) in response to free radicals formed as a result of strain or stress. Resveratrol prevents the expression of ET-1, at least in part, by significantly lessening free radical formation, thus preventing the production of the agents that, in turn, activate the signaling pathways that control the creation of ET-1.

Resveratrol Helps Keep the Heart Muscle Flexible and Healthy

A team of researchers led by Gary Meszaros and Joshua Bomser at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine has shown that resveratrol not only inhibits production of endothelin-1, but also directly affects heart muscle cells to maintain heart health. Their research, published in the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, shows that resveratrol inhibits angiotensin II, a hormone that is secreted in response to high blood pressure and heart failure.

Angiotensin II has a negative effect on heart health in that it signals cardiac fibroblasts, the family of heart muscle cells responsible for secreting collagen, to proliferate. The result is the production of excessive amounts of collagen, which causes the heart muscle to stiffen, reducing its ability to pump blood efficiently.

In addition to inhibiting angiotensin II, and therefore the proliferation of cardiac fibroblasts, resveratrol also prevented the cardiac fibroblasts that were already present from changing into myofibroblasts, the type of cardiac fibroblast that produces the most collagen.

The Role of Grapes’ Saponins in Supporting Heart Health

Research presented at the 226th national meeting of the American Chemical Society provides yet another explanation for red wine’s cardio-protective effects-phytonutrients that help lower cholesterol called saponins. A plant protective agent found in the grapes’ waxy skin, which dissolves into the wine during its fermentation process, saponins are believed to bind to and prevent the absorption of cholesterol and are also known to settle down inflammation pathways, an effect that could have implications in not only heart disease, but cancer. The research team, led by Andrew Waterhouse, PhD, from the University of California, Davis, thinks that alcohol may make the saponins more soluble and thus more available in wine.

Currently, a hot research topic, saponins are glucose-based compounds, which are being found in an increasing number of foods including olive oil and soybeans. Waterhouse tested six varieties of California wines, four red and two white, to compare their saponin content, which varied among brands, but was found present in high concentrations in all the red wines tested. Red wines contained 3 to 10 times the amount of saponins found in white wines. The saponin content of red wine also showed a positive correlation with alcohol content, the stronger the wine, the more saponins. Among the red wines tested, red Zinfandel, which also had the highest level of alcohol-16%-contained the highest levels. Syrah came in second, followed by Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, which had a comparable amount. The white varieties tested, Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay, contained much less.

“Average dietary saponin intake has been estimated at 15 mg, while one glass of red wine has a total saponin concentration of about half that, making red wine a significant dietary source,” Waterhouse said.

Strokes occur when blood clots or an artery bursts in the brain, interrupting its blood supply. In the U.S., where every 45 seconds, someone will experience a stroke, according to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the leading cause of disability and the 3rd leading cause of death.

Resveratrol, a flavonoid found in grapes, red wine and peanuts, can improve blood flow in the brain by 30%, thus greatly reducing the risk of stroke, according to the results of an animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Lead researcher Kwok Tung Lu hypothesized that resveratrol exerted this very beneficial effect by stimulating the production and/or release of nitric oxide (NO), a molecule made in the lining of blood vessels (the endothelium) that signals the surrounding muscle to relax, dilating the blood vessel and increasing blood flow.

In the animals that received resveratrol, the concentration of nitric oxide (NO) in the affected part of the brain was 25% higher than that seen not only in the ischemia-only group, but even in the control animals.

Pterostilbene, Another Antioxidant in Grapes, May Lower Cholesterol

In addition to resveratrol and saponins, grapes contain yet another compound called pterostilbene (pronounced TARE-oh-STILL-bean), a powerful antioxidant that is already known to fight cancer and may also help lower cholesterol.

In a study using animal liver cells, scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service compared the cholesterol-lowering effects of pterostilbene to those of ciprofibrate, a lipid-lowering drug, and resveratrol, another antioxidant found in grapes with a chemical structure similar to pterostilbene that has been shown to help fight cancer and heart disease.

They based their comparison on each compound’s ability to activate PPAR-alpha (short for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha). The PPARs are a family of receptors on cells all throughout the body that are involved in the absorption of compounds into cells for use in energy production. PPAR-alpha is crucial for the metabolism of lipids, including cholesterol.

Pterostilbene was as effective as ciprofibrate and outperformed resveratrol in activating PPAR-alpha. In addition to grapes, pterostilbene is found in berries of the Vaccinium genus such as cranberries and blueberries. The take away message: turn up your cholesterol burning machinery by eating more grapes, blueberries and cranberries.

Grape Polyphenols Lower Key Factors for Coronary Heart Disease in Women

More evidence shows grapes and grape juice, not just red wine, offer considerable cardiovascular benefits. Consuming a drink made from adding just 36 g (1.26 ounces) of a powder made from freeze-dried grapes to a glass of water daily for 4 weeks resulted in a wide variety of cardioprotective effects in 24 pre- and 20 postmenopausal women, shows a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

* Blood levels of LDL cholesterol and apolipoproteins B and E dropped significantly. (These apolipoproteins are involved in the binding of LDL and VLDL cholesterol to blood vessel walls, one of the beginning steps in the development of atherosclerosis.)
* Triglycerides dropped 15 and 6% in pre- and postmenopausal women, respectively.
* Cholesterol ester transfer protein activity dropped 15%. (Inhibition of this protein has been shown to increase levels of HDL while decreasing LDL levels.)
* Levels of urinary F(2)-isoprostanes (a marker of free radical damage in the body) dropped significantly as did blood levels of TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which plays a major role in the inflammation process).

The rich mixture of phytonutrients found in grapes-which includes flavans, anthocyanins, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, as well as resveratrol-is thought to be responsible for these numerous protective effects on cholesterol metabolism, oxidative stress (free radical activity) and inflammation.

Wine Protective for Persons with Hypertension

If you have high blood pressure, a glass of wine with your evening meal may be a good idea, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In persons with high blood pressure, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease is much higher in northern Europe and the United States than in Mediterranean countries. When French researchers tested the hypothesis that drinking wine reduces the risk of hypertension-related death, they found that, in persons with hypertension, moderate regular wine drinking reduced the risk of death from all causes, not just coronary artery disease.

Grapes Provide Many of the Cardioprotective Benefits of Red Wine

While studies show red wine offers numerous protective benefits, grape juice also provides the majority of these effects without the risks of alcohol consumption, which, if excessive can lead to accidents, liver problems, higher blood pressure, heart arrhythmias-and alcoholism.

In addition, red wine causes migraines in some people and may bring on an attack of gout in others. Wine often contains added preservatives, colors and flavors, which are not listed on the label and may cause adverse reactions. Sulfur dioxide, for example, is an additive frequently found in red wine that can trigger an asthma attack in individuals sensitive to this chemical.

If consumed by pregnant women, any alcoholic beverage including wine, can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

If you prefer not to consume alcoholic beverages, take heart-grapes may still provide many of the cardioprotective benefits attributed to red wine.

Resveratrol, which is concentrated in red wine but only appears in very small amounts in grapes, has been touted as the main agent responsible for the “French paradox,” i.e., the health benefits associated with drinking red wine. But, Lawrence M. Szewczuk and Trevor M. Penning from the University of Pennsylvania, in a study published in the Journal of Natural Products, point out that other constituents found in far greater amounts in grapes as well as red wine, namely grapes’ catechins and epicatechins, might be due the most credit.

One of the primary ways in which resveratrol is reported to have its cardioprotective effects is its ability to modify activity of cyclooxygenase enzymes. Two forms of cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) have been closely studied in the research literature (often by drug companies developing new prescription medications). These cyclooxygenase enzymes have many roles in metabolism, including roles in triggering the body’s inflammatory response. COX-2 appears to be the more important of these two enzyme forms when it comes to inflammatory response. Resveratrol appears to help block COX-2 activity indirectly, through changes in another system of messaging molecules called NF-kappaB and I-kappaB kinase. It also appears to directly block activity of COX-1. Unfortunately, the average wine drinker appears to absorb resveratrol in quantities too small to significantly lower cyclooxygenase activity. Catechins and epicatechins are present in much greater amounts in grapes as well as red wine, and smaller amounts of these compounds appear to be needed for reduction of cyclooxygenase activity.

To receive comparable benefits as those gained from drinking a glass of red wine, however, you need to drink more grape juice. A recent study found that six glasses of grape juice produced the same beneficial effect as two glasses of red wine in reducing platelet aggregation, the clumping that leads to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Another option is to drink dealcoholized red wine. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests the alcohol-free alternative provides comparable cardioprotective benefit. In this six month study, female laboratory animals with an inbred susceptibility to develop cardiovascular disease were given a normal diet along with red, white or dealcoholized red wine to compare their effects on atherosclerosis development. Dealcoholized red wine provided effective protection comparable to that of either white or red wine, significantly decreasing the development of atherosclerosis. Researchers credit the polyphenolic compounds found in the wine, rather than alcohol, with these beneficial effects.

So, if you want to avoid alcohol and protect your heart, toast your health with at least three daily glasses of red or purple grape juice.

Resveratrol for Optimal Health

Recently, several studies have also identified resveratrol as an excellent candidate for use as a cancer-preventive agent in prostate, lung, liver and breast cancer. Resveratrol has demonstrated striking inhibitory effects on the cellular events involved in cancer initiation, promotion, and progression, and its safety in animal studies of cancer development resulting from exposure to chemical toxins is excellent.

One of the most exciting studies, published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, suggested that resveratrol can provide protection against benzopyrene, a major environmental carcinogen involved in the development of lung cancer. Resveratrol works its protective magic by inhibiting a receptor on cells called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) to which benzopyrene (and other carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) bind. The AhR turns on a whole battery of genes that is involved in carcinogenesis. In this study, significant DNA damage was found in laboratory animals exposed to benzopyrene, but when they were also given resveratrol, their DNA damage was less than half, plus, in those cells whose DNA was damaged, resveratrol also caused a significant rise in apoptosis (the self-destruction sequence the body uses to eliminate cancerous cells).Other studies suggest that resveratrol can also inhibit the growth of liver and breast cancer cells.

French scientists have discovered a potent anti-cancer agent, acutimissin A, in red wine that has been aged in oak barrels. A member of a class of polyphenols called ellagitannins, acutimissin A develops when a grape flavonoid called catechin combines with a phenol in oak called vescalagin. Discovered 16 years ago in the sawtooth oak, acutimissin A blocks the action of an important enzyme whose activity is essential to the development of cancerous cells. In preliminary tests, acutimissin A has been shown to be 250 times more potent than the clinical anti-cancer drug VP-16.

Promote Lung Health

Red, but not white wine, may offer protection against lung cancer, suggests a study published in Thorax by Professor Juan Barros-Dios and his team at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, who reported the results of their hospital-based case-control study. While a daily glass of white wine was associated with a 20% increased risk of lung cancer, a daily glass of red wine lowered risk an average of 13%. No association was noted between lung cancer and the consumption of beer or spirits.

What might explain these different effects seen in individuals drinking red and white wine? Most likely, red wine’s concentration of the phytonutrient, resveratrol. Another study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Lung, Cellular and Molecular Physiology found that resveratrol has a number of anti-inflammatory effects on human airway epithelial cells-the cells lining the lungs and nasal passages.

Resveratrol blocked the release in these epithelial cells of a number of inflammatory molecules including IL-8, inducible nitric oxide synthase and NF-kappaB, inhibiting the latter more effectively than the powerful glucocorticosteroid drug, dexamethasone.

Resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory actions also inhibited the production of COX-2 in these epithelial cells. COX-2 is the pro-inflammatory compound whose production the non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs Vioxx and Celebrex were developed to prevent. While these drugs are now being pulled off the market due to the increased risk of heart attack and death associated with their use, resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory actions pose no such risks.

In fact, the researchers concluded their report by saying, “This study demonstrates that resveratrol and quercetin have novel nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory activity that may have applications for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.” Louise Donnelly, lead researcher in the study, was so impressed with resveratrol’s broad anti-inflammatory effects that she has begun investigating its use in an aerosol spray to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

Grapes Enhance Women’s Health

Red grape skins and seeds contain recently isolated compounds that a study published in Cancer Research has shown reduce the size of estrogen-dependent breast cancer tumors. In breast cancer, local estrogen production has been demonstrated to play a major role in promoting tumor growth. An enzyme called aromatase, which converts other hormone substrates (specifically, androgens) into estrogens, is present in greater amounts in breast cancer tissue compared to normal breast tissue and is thought to play a crucial role in breast cancer initiation and progression. Grape skins and seeds contain compounds called procyanidin B dimers that can inhibit aromatase, and in this study, were used to significantly reduce the size of mammary tumors in laboratory animals. Lead researcher, Shiuan Chen, of the City of Hope Cancer Center in Los Angeles, believes these phytonutrients in grape skins and seeds, while not as powerful as drugs used to inhibit aromatase (e.g., anastrozole, letrozole and exemestane), could play an important role as cancer preventive agents. If you drink wine, choose red. And next time you buy grapes, consider choosing red grapes with seeds.

Another Way Grapes Promote Optimal Health

Research published in Cancer Letters provides one reason why diets high in fruit help prevent cancer: raspberries, blackberries and muscadine grapes inhibit metalloproteinase enzymes. Although essential for the development and remodeling of tissues, if produced in abnormally high amounts, these enzymes play a significant role in cancer development by providing a mechanism for its invasion and spread.

Grapes’ Resveratrol May Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Population studies indicate a link between moderate consumption of red wine and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. A laboratory study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry helps explain why.

Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol found mainly in grapes and red wine, greatly reduces the levels of amyloid-beta peptides (Abeta). Plaques containing Abeta are a hallmark finding in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, cells treated with resveratrol had significantly lower levels of Abeta than untreated cells. Resveratrol lowers Abeta levels by promoting its rapid breakdown by proteasomes, protein-digesting “machines” inside our cells that dismantle a variety of proteins into short polypeptides and amino acids that can then be used to make new protein the cell needs.

Each human cell contains about 30,000 proteasomes, which mainly digest proteins made within the cell, such as enzymes and transcription factors, so their parts can be recycled to make new proteins.

Resveratrol-An Anti-Aging Agent?

In recently published research, resveratrol has been identified as a potent activator of Sir2-an enzyme researchers have now discovered is responsible for the extension of life span seen in many species when placed on calorie restricted diets.

In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, not only does calorie restriction extend longevity through a pathway that requires the enzyme Sir2, but overproducing this enzyme can prolong the life of yeast even when grown under normal nutrient conditions. Similarly, in the evolutionarily more advanced worm Caenorhabditis elegans, increased expression of the worm’s version of Sir2 has also been shown to extend lifespan.

The Sir2 enzyme belongs to a large family of molecules called sirtuins, found in virtually all life forms. In mammalian cells, sirtuins regulate cell maturation (differentiation) and programmed cell death (apoptosis).

Building on the knowledge that caloric restriction prolongs longevity through Sir2, researchers (Howitz et al.) searched for a small molecule that could activate this enzyme directly. They discovered two related compounds that stimulate Sir2 activity, both of which belong to the family of molecules called polyphenols-active compounds products by plants. Of all the polyphenols tested, resveratrol was the most potent by far. The researchers found that this compound prolonged the lifespan of yeast by approximately 70%, and that the extension of longevity was entirely dependent on resveratrol’s activation of Sir2. Yeast strains deficient in this enzyme did not benefit from resveratrol treatment.

Could plant polyphenols such as resveratrol hold the secret of the elixir of youth sought by Ponce de Leon? Perhaps, but the research indicates that figuring out the way to apply their life extending effects will be complicated. At relatively low doses, resveratrol was found to stimulate sirtuin activity, but higher doses have had the opposite effect. While not an ideal characteristic for a pharmaceutical drug, this suggests that the appropriate dosage could be supplied by enjoying a daily glass of grape juice or red wine. More importantly, however, much more research must be done before we understand how sirtuins function in mammalian aging. Extending longevity in a yeast is a long way from life extension in higher organisms. Till scientists figure this out, a daily dose of resveratrol-rich grapes in all their delicious forms might add years to your life as well as delight to your years.

An Effective Anti-Microbial Agent

Researchers at Erciyes University, Turkey, have found that an agent made from grape pomace extract (grape seeds, skin and stems) is an effective anti-microbial agent. When tested against 14 bacteria including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, the grape extract inhibited all the bacteria tested at extract concentrations of 2.5, 5, 10 and 20%, except for Y enterocolitica, which was not inhibited by the 2.5% concentration.

Purple Grape Juice, Red Wines Protective against Food-Borne Illness

If you get a food-borne illness, drink purple grape juice or a glass of red wine. Commonly used antibiotics destroy the body’s health-promoting intestinal bacteria, but red wines, particularly Cabernet, Pinot noir and Merlot, inhibit food borne pathogens without harming beneficial probiotic bacteria. Research presented at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual conference tested four food borne pathogens and four probiotics. The probiotics weren’t inhibited by red wines; the pathogens were.

The most promising results were those found for H. pylori, the bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers, but red wines also inhibited E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Listeria monocytogenes. E While purple grape juice was also effective, white wine was not, suggesting that inhibitory effects against pathogens may be due to the catechin and resveratrol found in grape skins and red wines. (Grape skins are removed when making white wine.) Ethanol (the alcohol in wine), pH levels and resveratrol were separately found have similar protective effects. Das A, Institute of Food Technologists’ Conference, Chicago, July 31, 2007, Food Microbiology, Presentation# 142-13)

Red Wine Greatly Cuts Colorectal Cancer Risk, Reduces Risk of All-Causes of Mortality

Drinking at least three glasses of red wine a week could cut the risk of colorectal cancer by almost 70%, researchers reported at the 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Las Vegas. Colorectal cancer accounts for 9% of new cancer cases every year worldwide, occurring primarily in the United States and Europe. Fortunately, if diagnosed early, it remains one of the most curable cancers.

Joseph Anderson and colleagues from the Stony Brook University in New York looked at the drinking habits of 360 red and white wine drinkers with similar lifestyles and found that, while white wine consumption had no association with colorectal cancer occurrence, regularly drinking red wine was linked to a 68% reduced risk of the cancer.

The active component in wine thought to be largely responsible is resveratrol, a natural anti-fungal that grapes-especially organically grown red grapes- produce under their skin. The concentration of resveratrol is significantly higher in red than white wine because the skins are removed earlier during white-wine production.

Nearly all dark red wines-merlot, cabernet, zinfandel, shiraz and pinot noir-contain resveratrol, although the amount in a bottle can range from 0.2 to 5.8 milligrams per litre, varying among types of grapes and growing seasons.

Also, grapes and wine are reported to contain more than 600 different phytonutrients, including many with antioxidant activity, so it’s likely that a number of compounds in grapes, including resveratrol, work synergistically to protect against colorectal cancer.

In support of this hypothesis, a recent animal study by researchers from Tuft’s University reported brain-protecting effects from Concord grape juice resulting from synergistic activity among grape polyphenols. “It may be that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” wrote lead author of this study, Barbara Shukitt-Hale, in the journal Nutrition.

In other research-a meta-analysis of 34 studies involving over a million people published in the Archives of Internal Medicine-investigators at the Catholic University of Campobasso in Italy concluded that moderate drinking is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality.

Although excessive alcohol consumption was shown to increase mortality, drinking 2 to 4 drinks per day was associated with a reduction in deaths from all causes in men. For women, the protective effect ended above 2 drinks per day.

It’s been proposed that the protective effect of moderate drinking may be due to associated lifestyle factors, but lead author of this study, Di Castelnuovo noted, “We’ve carefully examined this aspect. Our data suggest that, even considering all main confounding factors (as dietary habits, physical activity or the health of people studied), a moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages keeps on showing a real positive effect.”

The review also determined that the protective benefit of alcohol is greater for European than American men, which could be explained by the way in which alcohol is consumed: European men are likelier than Americans to drink wine and to enjoy it with a meal.

“The core of this study is not just about alcohol,” Catholic University Research Laboratories director Giovanni de Gaetano stated. “It is also the way we drink that makes the difference: little amounts, preferably during meals, this appears to be the right way. This is another feature of the Mediterranean diet, where alcohol, wine above all, is the ideal partner of a dinner or lunch, but that’s all: the rest of the day must be absolutely alcohol-free. The message carried by scientific studies like ours is simple: alcohol can be a respectful guest on our table, but it is good just when it goes with a healthy lifestyle, where moderation leads us toward a consumption inspired by quality not by quantity.”

Recent Harvard research (the Northern Manhattan Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study) also suggest that moderation in alcohol consumption is key: lowest risk of stroke was seen in those who had one, or maybe two, drinks a day.

If you’re inspired to try a daily glass of red wine as part of your healthy way of eating, you may want to look for red wine from southwestern France or Sardinia. Research published in Nature suggests that the protective polyphenols in red wine are present at higher concentrations in wines from southwestern France and Sardinia, where traditional production methods ensure these compounds are efficiently extracted during wine production.

In this study, researchers evaluated red wine samples from Australia (14), France (11), Greece (16), Italy (3), Spain (1), Sardinia (15), Argentina (33), Chile (9), Bolivia (5), Uruguay (4), and the USA (14 from California), along with various other wines from Southwest France, Georgia and South Africa.

They also looked at human aging patterns using data from the 1999 French census. The data showed six regions in Southwest and Central France with >25% higher level of men aged 75 or more, compared to the national average. Men living in Nuoro province in Sardinia also had higher longevity. (The analyses focused on men because they have been shown to benefit more than women from regular wine consumption.) Wines produced in areas of increased longevity (e.g., the Gers area of France and Nuoro province in Sardinia) were found to have 2-4-fold more polyphenol (oligomeric procyanidins or OPCs) content and biological activity than wines from other regions. These are areas where traditional wine making methods are still used, plus the Tannat grape used in these regions is also particularly high in OPCs.

Concord Grape Juice Ranked among the Highest in Antioxidant Activity

Not all fruit juices are the same. They differ markedly in the variety of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity, according to Alan Crozier, Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Human Nutrition, who, with colleagues at the University of Glasgow, evaluated 13 commercially available popular juices.

Concord grapes came out on top with the highest and broadest range of polyphenols and the highest overall antioxidant capacity. (The main components in purple grape juice were flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, and hydroxycinnamates, together accounting for 93% of the total phenolic content.)

Other top scorers were cloudy apple juice, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice.

Results for the red grape juice were said to be equal to those for a Beaujolais red wine. Interestingly, however, white grape juice, mainly containing hydroxycinnamates, had the lowest total phenolic content.

The products analyzed were: Spray Classic Cranberry; Welch’s Purple Grape; Tesco Pure Pressed Red Grape; Pomegreat Pomegranate; Tesco Pure Apple (clear); Copella Apple (cloudy); Tesco Pure Grapefruit; Tesco Value Pure Orange (concentrate); Tropicana Pure Premium Smooth Orange (squeezed); Tropicana Pure Premium Tropical Fruit; Tesco Pure Pressed White Grape; Tesco Pure Pineapple; Del Monte Premium Tomato.

Dr. Crozier’s findings come shortly after those of the Kame project, which indicated that long-term fruit juice consumption can provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease (Dai et al., Am J Med), and suggest that, since each fruit juice contains its own array of protective phenols, drinking a variety may offer the best protection. Practical Tip: “The message is to mix these juices during the week. That way you will get all the compounds with anti-oxidant activity. If you drink only one juice you risk missing out on the compounds in the others,” explained Crozier.

Safety

If you are drinking grape juice for health benefits, avoid products labeled as grape “drinks.” This is often an imitation high-sugar product with little real grape juice.

Grapes and Pesticide Residues

Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2006 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” grapes imported into U.S. are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of imported grapes unless they are grown organically. While imported grapes were among the top 12 foods found to have pesticide residues, grapes grown in the U.S. were found to be number 19 among the 43 foods tested.

Nutritional Profile

Grapes are excellent sources of manganese and good sources of vitamin B6, thiamin (vitamin B1), potassium, and vitamin C. In addition, grapes contain flavonoids: phytochemicals that are antioxidant compounds.

Pineapple
Pineapples are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.

Health Benefits

Potential Anti-Inflammatory and Digestive Benefits

Bromelain is a complex mixture of substances that can be extracted from the stem and core fruit of the pineapple. Among dozens of components known to exist in this crude extract, the best studied components are a group of protein-digesting enzymes (called cysteine proteinases). Originally, researchers believed that these enzymes provided the key health benefits found in bromelain, a popular dietary supplement containing these pineapple extracts. In addition, researchers believed that these benefits were primarily limited to help with digestion in the intestinal tract. However, further studies have shown that bromelain has a wide variety of health benefits, and that many of these benefits may not be related to the different enzymes found in this extract. Excessive inflammation, excessive coagulation of the blood, and certain types of tumor growth may all be reduced by therapeutic doses of bromelain when taken as a dietary supplement. Studies are not available, however, to show these same potential benefits in relationship to normal intake of pineapple within a normal meal plan.

Bromelain extracts can be obtained from both the fruit core and stems of pineapple. Potentially important chemical differences appear to exist between extracts obtained from the stem versus the core fruit. However, the practical relevance of these differences is not presently understood. Most of the laboratory research on bromelain has been conducted using stem-based extracts, however.

Although healthcare practitioners have reported improved digestion in their patients with an increase in pineapple as their “fruit of choice” within a meal plan, we haven’t seen published studies that document specific changes in digestion following consumption of the fruit (versus supplementation with the purified extract. However, we suspect that the core fruit will eventually turn out to show some unique health-supportive properties, including possible digestion-related and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Antioxidant Protection and Immune Support

Vitamin C is the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant, defending all aqueous areas of the body against free radicals that attack and damage normal cells. Free radicals have been shown to promote the artery plaque build-up of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, cause the airway spasm that leads to asthma attacks, damage the cells of the colon so they become colon cancer cells, and contribute to the joint pain and disability seen in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This would explain why diets rich in vitamin C have been shown to be useful for preventing or reducing the severity of all of these conditions. In addition, vitamin C is vital for the proper function of the immune system, making it a nutrient to turn to for the prevention of recurrent ear infections, colds, and flu.

Manganese and Thiamin (Vitamin B1) for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defenses

Pineapple is an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. Just one cup of fresh pineapple supplies 128.0% of the DV for this very important trace mineral. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but pineapple can help you reach this goal. Add fresh pineapple to your morning smoothie, lunch time yogurt, any fruit and most vegetable salads. For example, try adding chunks of pineapple to your next coleslaw or carrot salad.

Safety

Pineapple is not a commonly allergenic food, is not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines, and is also not included in the Environmental Working Group’s 2006 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” as one of the 12 foods most frequently containing pesticide residues. In fact, pineapple is often used as a fruit in allergy avoidance diets partly for these reasons, and for its bromelain (digestive enzyme) component.

Nutritional Profile

Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, copper and dietary fiber.

Health Benefits of 12 Mushroom extracts used in Alive MegaNutritional

Mushroom Extracts

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a genus of ascomycete fungi and some of its members including Cordyceps mycelium are commonly used in herbal medicine. The popular species in commercial products are Cordyceps sinensis, Cordyceps ophioglossoides, Cordyceps capita, and Cordyceps. militaris. Cordyceps militaris is a traditional herbal ingredient frequently used for tonic and medicinal purposes in eastern Asia, while, Cordyceps sinensis (dong chong xia cao; 冬蟲夏草) has been suggested to possess anti-tumor, immunostimulant and antioxidant activities.

The chemical constituents for most species include cordycepin (3′-de-oxyadenosine) and its derivatives, ergosterol, polysaccharides, a glycoprotein and peptides containing alpha-aminoisobutyric acid. Their benefits are suggested to include anti-tumour, anti-metastatic, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, hypolipidaemic, hypoglycaemic, anti-ageing, neuroprotective and renoprotective effects. Polysaccharide accounts for the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumour, anti-metastatic, immunomodulatory, hypoglycaemic, steroidogenic and hypolipidaemic effects. Cordycepin contributes to the anti-tumour, insecticidal and antibacterial activity. Ergosterol exhibits anti-tumour and immunomodulatory activity.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF CORDYCEPS

Cordyceps may promote liver health.

Researchers from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine proposed the use of Cordyceps sinensis on liver fibrosis. In a study, they induced liver fibrosis in rats with dimethylnitrosamine and then they treated the rats with Cordyceps sinensis.

They found that the content of metalloproteinases-2 in Cordyceps sinensis-treated group was significantly higher than that in the untreated group. Thus, cordyceps sinensis promoted collagen degradation.

Cordyceps may have benefits in diabetes.

Researchers from University of Macau, China, isolated a polysaccharide of molecular weight approximately 210kDa was isolated from cultured Cordyceps mycelia. This isolated polysaccharides, CSP-1, has a strong antidant activity and a hypoglycemic effect on normal and alloxan-diabetic mice and streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats.

When administered at a dose of higher than 200mg/kg body wt. daily for 7 days, CSP-1 produced a significant drop in blood glucose level in both STZ-induced diabetic rats and alloxan-induced diabetic mice.

Researchers from China Agricultural University, Beijing, also noticed the blood glucose lowering effects of a polysaccharide extracted from the fruting bodies and mycelia of Cordyceps militaris in a study of rats. The hypoglycemic effect of this polysaccharide-enriched Cordyceps militaris extract was dose-dependent.

Cordyceps have antioxidant activities.

Researchers from Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, Taiwan, demonstrated the protective effects of cultured Cordyceps militaris and natural Cordyceps sinensis against oxidative damage of biomolecules in a vitro study. They both have free radical scavenging abilities.

Cordyceps may have benefits in cancers.

The aqueous extract of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs), one of the traditional Chinese medicines, has been demonstrated to benefit a wide range of disorders in either animal or test-tube studies. Here are some most recent animal or in vitro studies suggesting its benefits in cancers.

Korean researchers reported cytotoxic effects of cultivated fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris extracts against the proliferation of the human premyelocytic leukemia cell HL-60 via the activation of caspase-3.

Researchers from Nanjing University shows that a polysaccharide extracted from a cultivated Cordyceps sinensis fungus significantly enhanced superoxide dismutase activity of liver, brain and serum as well as glutathione peroxidase activity of liver and brain in tumor-bearing mice. It also inhibited H22 tumor growth in the mice.

Cordyceps sinensis mycelium was found to induce MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cell death. Researchers from Taiwan found that Cordyceps sinensis induced MA-10 cell apoptosis by activating caspase-8-dependent and caspase-9-independent pathways and downregulating NF-?B protein expression.

Hong Kong researchers demonstrated that an ethanol extract of cultivated mycelium of a Cordyceps sinensis fungal mycelium has strong anti-tumor activity on four cancer cell lines MCF-7 breast cancer, B16 mouse melanoma, HL-60 human premyelocytic leukemia and HepG2 human hepatocellular carcinoma. In an animal test, the EtOAc extract showed significant inhibiting effect on B16-induced melanoma in C57BL/6 mice, causing about 60% decrease of tumor size over 27 days. In contrast, this extract had much lower cytotoxicity against normal mouse bone marrow cells.  Researchers reported that it contained mainly carbohydrates, adenosine, ergosterol and trace amount of cordycepin.

Cordyceps may help body defense, against infections and inflammation. Cordyceps may modulate immunity.

Cordyceps sinensis is believed to be an immunomodulator. Hong Kong researchers demonstrated that a cultivated strain of Cordyceps sinensis induced the production of interleukin(IL)-1beta, IL-6, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor alphaalpha from PBMC, augmented surface expression of CD25 on lymphocytes in a vitro study. While, researchers from Zhejiang University, China, desmonstrated increased ovalbumin- specific IgG, IgG1 and IgG2b serum levels after treating the mice with edible mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis.

A rat study has shown that a Cordyceps sinensis mycelium extract protected mice from group A streptococcal infection. It increased IL-12 and IFN-gamma expression and macrophage phagocytic activities.

Cordyceps show benefit in diabetes in a study of animals.

Korean researchers showed a water-extract of Cordyceps militaris ameliorated insulin resistance by enhancing glucose utilization in skeletal muscles of rats.

Cordyceps show benefit in memory deficits in a test-tube study.

The extract of Cordyceps ophioglossoides protected the Abeta-induced neuronal cell death and memory loss through free radical scavenging activity.

Cordyceps alter testosterone levels in mice.

Researchers from Taiwan noticed the stimulating effects of Cordyceps sinensis extracts on the secretion of testosterone in mice; this effect is in dose- and time- dependent relationships. They are hoping this effect may offer benefits to those with reproductive problems.

Cordyceps show cholesterol-lowering effects in animal studies.

In a study, researchers fed mice with cholesterol-enriched diet. They found that the serum total cholesterol (TC) of all mice groups administered Cordyceps sinensis extracts with the cholesterol-enriched diet decreased more than in the control group.

Cordyceps show liver protection in animal studies.

Cordyceps sinensis may be able to adjust the T lymphocyte subsets level and to treat hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis. In the study, the researchers supplied cordyceps sinensis to 25 patients suffered from chronic hepatitis for three months. They found CD4 and CD4/CD8 ratio increased significantly(P < 0.05), while HA and PC III decreased significantly(P < 0.05) compared with the control.

In another study of rats, researchers from Korea demonstrated four weeks of administration of extracellular biopolymers from mycelial liquid culture of Cordyceps militaris has a beneficial effect in rats with liver fibrosis.

Cordyceps show cardiobascular protection in animal studies.

Extracts of the fruiting bodies of cultured Cordyceps sinensis has been shown to exert beneficial effects on the formation of the atherosclerotic lesion induced by oxidative stress with few side effects in a study of mice. In the study, researchers fed mice with an atherogenic diet and treated with the extracts for 12 weeks. Mice fed the atherogenic diet showed marked increases in serum lipid and lipid peroxide levels and also aortic cholesterol levels, particularly cholesteryl ester level, a major lipid constituent in atherosclerotic lesions. According to the authors, the extracts significantly suppressed the increased serum lipid peroxide level but not other lipid levels in a dose-dependent manner.  WECS also suppressed the increased aortic cholesteryl ester level in a dose-dependent manner.

Researchers isolated a macromolecule from Cordyceps sinensis and they found this molecule has blood pressure lowering and vaso-relaxing effects. The researchers explained that the vasorelaxation was mediated by the endothelium possibly by stimulating the release of the nitric oxide and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor.

SIDE EFFECTS OF CORDYCEPS

The side effects of Cordyceps sinensis are limited for recommended dosages.

Reishi

Reishi is a unique health food with a wide range of medicinal properties which collectively strengthens the immune system and gives the user longevity:

* It has the rare and valuable properties of an Adaptogen, which means that it is non-toxic, non-specific, and has a normalizing effect on the body.

* It is classified as Top of the Superior Quality of all herbs by the pharmacopoeia used by Chinese doctors for thousands of years. Emperors have considered Reishi an herb for the immortals. Its stature is higher than Ginseng.

* It has a long history of safe use (5,000 years). NO toxicity or side-effect has been reported.

* There are 30 years of ample modern scientific evidences in the laboratory and in the clinic for its effectiveness.

* It has extremely wide applications, bringing benefits to the entire body, preventing almost all the common diseases.

* Its potency as a medicine even exceeds many modern drugs. For example, it is more effective than Melatonin and certainly much safer and free from side-effects.

* It is effective even for “terminal” illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and coronary heart disease.

* It is effective for both PREVENTION and CURE, suitable for daily use as a health supplement.

* It is very easy to gain acceptance by new users because of Reishi’s stature, publicity, and complete safety.

The Most Common Uses of Reishi

Reishi is commonly used for:

* Longevity and prevention of diseases

* Insomnia

* Stress

* Influenza and common cold

* Asthma

* Allergies

* Cancer

* Hypertension

* Heart Disease

* High Cholesterol (LDL)

* Diabetes

* Headache

* Stomach ache

* Arthritis

* Back pain

* Skin Care

* Hair loss

* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

* Hepatitis

What is Reishi?

Reishi is the Japanese name for Ganoderma Lucidum. The Chinese call it Lingzhi.

Ganoderma Lucidum is a mushroom, a higher order organism of the world of fungus. It belongs to the Polypore group.

“Polypores, commonly known as bracket or shelf fungi, are conspicuous mushrooms that grow off the sides of trees. On a walk through the forest one can commonly see many such bracket mushrooms.”

“What is not readily visible to us however is the actual mushroom organism, or mycelium. Just as an apple is the fruit of an apple tree, so too is a mushroom the fruit body of a mycelial “tree”. Mycelium is a network of the threadlike filaments that originates from spores. The mycelium spreads throughout the nutrient base or substrate, amassing nutrients as it grows. As long as environmental conditions are right, the mycelium will continue to grow and propagate until it exhausts the available nutrients.”

“As long as nutrients are available, the mycelium can be considered perennial and will live for many years. At least once a year, mushrooms emerge from the mycelial network. As the reproductive organ of the fungus, mushrooms are the means by which spores are created and spread.”

— from Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder, Terry Willard, Sylvan Press, 1991

In Jan. 1992 an excellent article about Reishi appeared in Health Foods Business: “Rei-Shi: Ancient Medicine is Modern Hope.” By Linda McGlasson, Assistant Editor.

Why is Reishi so special?

The status of Reishi in the health food industry is unparalleled. It is the culmination of the knowledge and wisdom of the East and West for 5,000 years. Its effectiveness as a health food and as a highly potent medicine have been demonstrated by over 30 years of modern scientific research in Japan, Taiwan, China, U.S.A., Canada, and Poland. Backed by 5,000 years of accumulated experience, Reishi can safely claim to be totally free from side-effects. The wide range of health benefits we can receive from Reishi is also unmatched. As it was so rare, Reishi was available only to emperors in ancient times. The first emperor of China, Shih Huang Ti, sent a fleet with 250 yourng men and 250 young ladies to Japan in search of the herb of longevity, which is Reishi.

Reishi is the king of adaptogens. It is superior to Ginseng. Adaptogens share three important properties:

1. Non-toxic and free from side-effects.

2. Non-specific, acting on the entire body.

3. Normalizes physiological functions.

Reishi contains 800-2,000 ppm of organic germanium, which is 4-5 times more than Ginseng. Germanium is a trace element with adaptogenic functions.

Active Ingredients

Modern medical research in the East and West have identified some of the physiological actions of Reishi. Chemical analysis has revealed that Reishi contains:

* High Molecular Weight Polysaccharides

* Triterpenes

* Organic Germanium

* Adenosine

* Amino Acids

* Vitamins

In addition to all of the ingredients in the fruit body, Reishi mycelium contains:

* Higher level of the RNA which disrupts viral diseases by inducing interferon production.

* Oleic Acid, an inhibitor of histamine release

* Cyclooctasulfur, a strong inhibitor of histamine release

* LZ-8, an immunomodulating protein which significantly reduces but doesn’t entirely shut down antibody production.

The Benefits of Reishi

The scientific data accumulated over the past 30 years help explain why Reishi is effective in all parts of our body:

* Immune System

o Cancer: Reishi is an effective anti-tumor medicine

o Common Cold

o Influenza

o Cough

o Inflammation

o Rheumatoid Arthritis

o Allergies

o Lupus

o Stomatitis (canker sores)

o Reishi acts as an antioxidant against free radicals

o Reishi protects against the effects of radiation

o Reishi has anti-inflammatory effects

* Respiratory System

o Asthma

o Chronic Bronchitis

* Endocrine System

o Problems associated with Menopause

o Irregular mentruation

* Nervous System

o Insomnia

o Neurasthenia

o Stress-induced tension

o Over-sleep

o Headache

o Toothache

o Cataracts

o Muscular Dystrophy

o Myasthenia Gravis

* Circulatory System

o Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

o Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)

o Coronary Heart Disease

o Arteriosclerosis

o Arrhythmia

o Stroke

o Reduction of Cholesterol (LDL)

o Anemia

o Cold Extremities

o Hemorrhoid

o Elevation sickness

* Digestive System

o Gastroenteritis

o Ulcer

o Hepatitis

o Liver Necrosis

o Reishi regenerates the liver

o Obesity — Reishi removes fat in the blood

o Underweight — Reishi improves appetite

o Diabetes

o Constipation

o Diarrhea

o Gallstones

* Skin

o Aging of the skin

o Ugly spots on the skin

o Acne

o Hair loss

o Dermatitis

* Excretory System

o Nephritis

* Reproductive System

o Erectile Dysfunction

o Lack of sexual desire

o Dysmenorrhea (Mentrual cramps)

The different types of Reishi

In ancient times, only wild Reishi was available. Reishi was classified by color into 6 types: Red, Green, White, Black, Yellow, Purple.

In 1972, researchers at Kyoto University in Japan successfully cultivated Reishi in the laboratory. From a single species, Ganoderma Lucidum (Red Reishi), all six colors could be grown by varying the temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide content, and the available nutrients. The six types of Reishi are thus shown to be one species.

Wild Reishi is extremely rare. Only one or two mushrooms can be found on a hill. Due to damage by insects and weather, the quality of wild Reishi is unpredictable. Only the fruit body can be harvested, when the active ingredients have already decreased. The dried mushrooms may not have the potency of the fresh mushroom. When buying wild Reishi, expertise is required in order not to confuse Reishi with the hundreds of other mushrooms (some of which are poisonous). After it matures, the fruit body is hardened by fibers which makes it more difficult to extract and digest the active ingredients. The spores are of microscopic dimensions, similar to the size of bacteria. They are protected by two layers of hardened cell walls. These cell walls trap the active ingredients inside and are indigestible.

Although wild Reishi fruit body and the spores are all effective products, our ancestors had to use a large quantity of Reishi to get a little benefit. As it was impossible to cultivate, this rare mushroom was available only to emperors.

Modern bio-engineering technology has made Reishi available to the general public in large quantities. The quality can be carefully controlled by providing the best conditions and sufficient nutrients. Further investigations have discovered that the largest amount of active ingredients exist in the mycelium, and that the mycelium is more digestible. The extraction process can be timed at the precise stage when the mycelium contains the largest amount of active ingredients. Fresh mycelium is available, and there is no chance for mistaken identity. Without the obstacles of the fibers, the extraction is more complete and the extract is more digestible. Therefore, the latest research on the medicinal properties of Reishi are done on the mycelial extracts.

Reishi is now available in capsule or tablet form, which makes it possible to avoid the bitter taste and standardize the dosage. However, not all Reishi capsules are the same. Some capsules are made from the fruit body, which contain a large quantity of dietary fibers. Some capsules contain other herbs, which may lead to side-effects. Some capsules made from the mycelium contain also the grain from which the mycelium is grown (so only a small fraction of the capsule is actually Reishi mycelium). The differences can be readily identified by tasting the powder. Pure Reishi has an intense, pure bitter taste. The best Reishi capsule is the extract of pure Reishi mycelium without the grain.

Several manufacturers have printed misleading brochures to promote the use of their own products. Such conflicting information can be confusing. The intelligent consumer will be careful in checking the source of information. Third-party documentation, especially those written by scientists, are the only reliable source.

An excellent definitive work on Reishi is “Reishi Mushroom, herb of spiritual potency and medical wonder”, written by Dr. Terry Willard, Ph.D., member of the Canadian Government’s Expert Advisory Committee on Herbs and Botanical Preparations. Also very informative is the Chinese books “Lingzhi and Health Vol. I-III” edited by Dr. Shiuh-Sheng Lee, Professor of Biochemistry at National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.

Shitake

Long a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. More recently, their rich, smoky flavor has endeared them to American taste buds and these exotic hearty mushrooms can now be found in supermarket shelves across the U.S. throughout the year.

Like other mushrooms, these specialty mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds.

Health Benefits

A symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, Shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. Now that their rich, smoky flavor has endeared them to American tastebuds, these exotic hearty mushrooms can be found in supermarket shelves across the U.S.

Invigorate Your Immune System

Recent studies have traced shiitakes’ legendary benefits to an active compound contained in these mushrooms called lentinan. Among lentinan’s healing benefits is its ability to power up the immune system, strengthening its ability to fight infection and disease. Against influenza and other viruses, lentinan has been shown to be even more effective than prescription drugs; it even improves the immune status of individuals infected with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.

Promote Optimal Health

Lentinan, which is technically classified as a polysaccharide and referred to as a branched beta-glucan, has also been shown to have anti-cancer activity. When lentinan was given for human gastric cancer, reticular fibers developed in tumor sites. Reticular cells, which are spread throughout the body in various tissues, are immune cells that have the ability to ingest (phagocytose) bacteria, particulate matter, and worn out or cancerous cells. When lentinan was administered, not only was there a proliferation of reticular cells in gastric tumor sites, but many T lymphocytes (another type of immune defender) were drawn to these cancer sites with the result that the cancer cell nests were fragmented and destroyed.

A Hearty Mushroom That’s Good for Your Heart

A large number of animal studies conducted over the last ten years have shown that another active component in shiitake mushrooms called eritadenine lowers cholesterol levels-and this amazing compound lowers cholesterol no matter what types of dietary fats the lab animals are given. Even when lab animals are given dietary protein rich in methionine (an amino acid researchers have found causes an increase in cholesterol formation), eritadenine still lowers plasma cholesterol levels in a dose-dependent manner. In other words, the more eritadenine given, the more cholesterol levels drop.

Shiitake Mushrooms Found to be Top Food Source of Potent Antioxidant

L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant, has been discovered in mushrooms, thanks to a new analytical method capable of identifying this antioxidant in plant material. In research presented at the 2005 American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., an American research team revealed that mushrooms contain higher concentrations L-ergothioneine than either of the two dietary sources previously believed to contain the most: chicken liver and wheat germ.

Testing mushrooms consumed in the U.S., the team found that shiitake, oyster, king oyster and maitake mushrooms contain the highest amounts of ergothioneine, with up to 13 mg in a 3-ounce serving. This equals forty times as much as is found in wheat germ.

Of the most commonly consumed mushrooms, portabellas and criminis have the most L-ergothioneine, followed by white buttons. White buttons, the most popular of all mushrooms consumed in the U.S., contain up to 5 mg per three ounce serving-12 times as much as wheat germ and 4 times more than chicken liver. And more good news, L-ergothioneine is not destroyed when mushrooms are cooked.

Safety

Shiitake Mushrooms and Purines

Shiitake mushrooms contain naturally-occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called “gout” and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as shiitake mushrooms. For more on this subject, please see “What are purines and in which foods are they found?”

Nutritional Profile

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium and a very good source of iron. They are also a good source of protein, dietary fiber and vitamin C.

Hiratake

Hiratke or Oyster mushrooms do not taste like oysters but rather get their name from their resemblance to the shellfish. Oyster mushrooms are among the most abundant of wild mushrooms. They can be found throughout the year, most often on the trunks of dead trees.

Oyster mushrooms are the third largest cultivated mushroom. China, the world leader in Oyster production, contributes nearly 85% of the total world production of about a million tonnes.

Oyster mushrooms are grown in bags of composted sawdust. The bags are sterilized, then inoculated with mushroom spawn (seed) placed inside the bag.

A characteristic of oyster mushrooms is that they have an eccentric (off-centre) stem or sometimes even no stem at all. Oyster mushrooms are very likely the most perishable of mushrooms. They must be kept between 1 and 4 degrees C.

Their colour can vary slightly depending on variety, from pale gray, to light beige, and sometimes pink or yellow. Oyster Mushrooms are similar to the Chanterelle with a more delicate flavor and coloring.

Oyster mushrooms have a subtle flavour and while very popular in Asian dishes can be used in just about any dish that calls for mushrooms. Mature oyster mushrooms are considerably larger and will be chewier but tend to be sweeter and have more flavor.

Oyster mushrooms have been revered for thousands of years as both a food and a medicine in both Eastern and mid-European cultures. Oyster mushrooms are rich in protein, vitamin C, niacin, folic acid and potassium. The protein content varies between 1.6 to 2.5 percent.

Oyster mushrooms contain most of the mineral salts required by the human body. Their niacin content is about ten times higher than any other vegetables and the folic acid in oyster mushrooms helps to cure anemia.

Oyster mushrooms are suitable for people with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes due to their low sodium/potassium ratio, starch, fat and calorific value.

Oyster mushrooms are a natural source of statin (cholesterol lowering) drugs. Studies have shown that they typically contain 0.4% to 2.7% statins.

Maitake

Maitake is the Japanese name for the edible fungus Grifola frondosa , which is characterized by a large fruiting body and overlapping caps. Maitake has been used traditionally both as a food and for medicinal purposes. Polysaccharide constituents of maitake have been associated in animal studies with multiple bioactive properties. Extracts of maitake mushroom, and particularly the beta-glucan polysaccharide constituent, have been associated with immune modulation in pre-clinical studies, and are hypothesized to exert anti-tumor effects as a result of these immune properties. Human data are limited, and at this time there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of oral maitake for any indication.

Synonyms

Beta-glucan, cloud mushroom, dancing mushroom, grifolan, Grifon Pro Maitake D Fraction Extract®, king of mushroom, Maitake Gold 404®, MD-fraction, MDF, My-take.

Evidence

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Uses based on scientific evidence

Cancer

Maitake is the Japanese name for the edible fungus Grifola frondosa , which is notable for its large fruiting body and overlapping caps. Maitake has been used traditionally both as a food and for medicinal purposes. Early studies in the laboratory as well as in humans suggest that beta-glucan extracts from maitake may increase the body’s ability to fight cancer. However, these studies have not been well designed, and better research is needed before the use of maitake for cancer can be recommended.

Diabetes

In animal studies, maitake extracts are reported to lower blood sugar levels. However, little is known about the effect of maitake on blood sugar in humans. Immune enhancement

Animal and laboratory studies suggest that beta-glucan extracts from maitake may alter the immune system. However, no reliable studies in humans are available.

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Antifungal, anti-infective, antitumorigenic, antiviral, arthritis, bacterial infection, diagnostic agent, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV, liver inflammation (hepatitis), weight loss.

Yamabushitake

This is an edible mushroom occurring widely in Japan and China, growing on standing and decayed broadleaf trees such as oak, walnut and beech. It can also cause heart rot in standing trees. Originally collected from the wild, it is now extensively grown artificially on logs and sawdust mixtures making this mushroom available all the year round. It is known in the West as the hedgehog or monkey head fungus and in China as Shishigashida because the fruiting body looks like the head of a lion. When air dried and extracted with hot water it is used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine (Houtou), to promote digestion and general vigour, strength and general nutrition. The polysaccharide from this mushroom have cyto-static effects on gastric, oesophageal, hepatic and skin cancers (Mizuno, 1999;.42 Mizuno et al., 1992). Mycelium produced from several Hericium spp. and then extracted with hot water formed the basis of a sports drink named Houtou that was used in the 11 th Asia Sports Festival (1990) and is believed to have contributed to the remarkable activities of Chinese players!!

It is anticipated that this mushroom will become an important component in future health foods.

Key active constituents

Beta-D-glucans (antitumour)

Himematsutake

Originating from the mountain region of Piedade, Brazil, Royal Agaricus Mushroom (Agaricus blazei Murill) has become quite popular there and in Asia as a medicinal mushroom and also for its use in cancer. Interest was peaked when a much lower occurrence of adult diseases was found in this region. Research done in Japan in 1980′s and 1990′s appears to support these benefits. Studies demonstrate agaricus mushroom’s possible use in recovery from cancer as well as in prevention of the imbalance, while also showing promise for agaricus mushroom’s ability to lower blood glucose, lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, as well as that of strong immune enhancement. In Brazil, agaricus mushroom is called “Cogmelo de Deus,” mushroom of God.

Bioactivities of royal agaricus medicinal mushrooms.

1.) Agaricus mushroom anti-tumor effects:

immune enhancement, activating macrophage, T-cell and NK-cell, Increasing TNF-a production, inducing cancer cell apoptosis and cytotoxicity.

2.) Agaricus mushroom anti-hyperlipidemia effects:

lowering total cholesterol, increasing HDL-cholesterol and lowering LDL-cholesterol, preventing arteriosclerosis

3.) Agaricus mushroom anti-hepatitis effects:

lowering GOT, GPT, and g-GTP, supporting liver functions.

4.) Agaricus mushroom anti-allergy effects:

immunoregulating effect

5.) Agaricus mushroom anti-aging effects:

eliminating free radicals, preventing the formation of peroxide lipids, improves age-related disorders

Kawaratake

PSK, a high molecular polysaccharide was first isolated from had Coriolus versicolor mushroom in the early 1970′s. The main component of the carbohydrate moiety is aglucose with galactose, mannose, xylose and fucose as minor components. The protein moiety is rich in acidic amino acids and neutral amino acids with basic amino acids n small amounts. The main component unit of the polysaccharide moiety is a beta-glucan with the main chain consisting of β-(1 to 4) glucose polymer branched a positions 3 and 6 of the glucose5.

Studies and safety evaluations in Japan on PSK had demonstrated benefit through a variety of immune actions in human, animal and in vitro research. They had shown PSK activating macrophage and T-killer-cell activity, stimulating lymphocyte counts and balancing helper/suppresor ratios. PSK was found to be useful as a maintenance therapy for patients after their curative surgical operations for colorectal cancer.

Chaga

Chaga, (Inonotus obliquus), also known as cinder conk, is a fungus in Hymenochaetaceae family. It is a parasitic fungus on Birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal. The fertile fruitbody can be found very rarely as a resupinate (crustose) fungus on or near the clinker, usually appearing after the host tree is completely dead. I. obliquus grows in birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern Europe, Northern areas of the United States and in the North Carolina mountains.

Medicinal use

Since the 16th century, there are records of chaga mushroom being used in folk medicine and the botanical medicine of the Eastern European countries as a remedy for cancer, gastritis,ulcers, and tuberculosis of the bones.[citation needed] In 1958, scientific studies in Finland and Russia found Chaga provided an epochal effect in breast cancer, liver cancer,uterine cancer, and gastric cancer, as well as in hypertension and diabetes.[citation needed] Herbalist David Winston maintains that it is the strongest anti-cancer medicinal mushroom.[1] The antimutagenic action of the molecules found in the white part of birch bark where chaga feeds inhibits free-radical oxidation and also induces the production of interferons, which helps induce DNA repair.[citation needed] The substances, contained in white part of birch bark contribute to the decrease of hypoxia and to increase of the stability of organism to the oxygen deficiency, being antihypoxant correcting the metabolism of cells.[citation needed] The anti-cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid, a chemical isolated from birch trees, is now being studied for use as a chemotherapeutic agent. Chaga contains large amounts of betulinic acid in a form that can be ingested orally, and it also contains the full spectrum of immune-stimulating phytochemicals found in other medicinal mushrooms such as maitake mushroom and shiitake mushroom.[citation needed]

[edit] Research

In 1998 there was a study in Poland that demonstrated Chaga’s inhibiting effects on tumor growth.[2] Noda and colleagues found that betulin seems to work highly selectively on tumor cells because the interior pH of tumor tissues is generally lower than that of normal tissues, and betulinic acid is only active at those lower levels. Fulda et al. found in 1997 that once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors.[citation needed] In 2005, I. obliquus was evaluated for its potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in human lymphocytes. The study found that the polyphenolic extract protected these cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress.[3] Another study that year found the endo-polysaccharide of Chaga produced indirect anti-cancer effects via immuno-stimulation. The mycelial endo-polysaccharide of I. obliquus was identified as a candidate for use as an immune response modifier and indicate that the anti-cancer effect of endo-polysaccharide is not directly tumorcidal but rather is immuno-stimulating.[4][5] It has also have anti-inflammatory properties.[6] Saitoh Akiko published on the antimutagenic effects of Chaga in 1996, and Mizuno et al. published on the anti tumor and hypoglycemic activities of the polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of Chaga

Zhu Ling

Zhu Ling can reduce the occurrence rate of B-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine (BBN)-induced bladder tumors in rats, the number of tumors per rat, the tumor diameter, and the tumor malignity.

Toxicity

Carnogenic test: negative (PPS extract/mice/hypodermic or intraperitoneal injection, 0.5, 50mg/kg daily for 6 consecutive months).

Teratogenic test: negative (PPS/mice/200mg/kg, intraperitoneal injection).(1)

Chemical Composition

Polyporusdextran I; Polyporusteron A, B, C, D, E, F, G; Ergosta-4, 6, 8(14), 22-tetraen-3-one; 25-deoxymakisterone A; 25-deoxy-24(28)-dehydromakisterone A; Ergosta-7, 22-dien-3-one; Ergosta-7, 22-dien-3-ol; Ergosta-5, 7, 22-trien-3-ol; 5a, 8a-epidioxyergosta-6, 22-dien-3-ol; a-hydroxytetracosanoic acid; 3, 4-dihydroxy benzaldehyde; Axungia; Isoleucine; Leucine; Aspartic acid; D-mannose; D-galactose; D-glucose.(2),(3),(4),(5) (6),(7)

Inorganic Chemicals

It contains trace elements, including calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), copper (Cu), sodium (Na), potassium (K), and sulfur (S).

Precautions

Zhu Ling is contraindicated for interior dryness (lest causing injury to yin-fluids). Reported adverse effects of Zhu Ling include skin rashes, dermatitis, transient tinnitus, colporrhagia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), arthritis, and arthralgia. (8),(9),(10),(11),(12),(13),(14),(15)

Pharmacology

Inhibitory effect on tumors

Zhu Ling can reduce the occurrence rate of B-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine (BBN)-induced bladder tumors in rats, the number of tumors per rat, the tumor diameter, and the tumor malignity.(16) Experiments show that toxin-L extracted from the ascitic fluid of patients with primary hepatoma can cause notable fat hydrolysis in vitro, inhibit the ingestion functions of rats, decrease the serum zinc levels, and increase the serum copper levels. It has been established that toxin-L can produce neoplastic cachexia, and that polyporus polysaccharides can inhibit toxin-L’s neoplastic cachexia-promoting activities.(17)

Enhancing immunity

Experiments on mice have shown that polyporus polysaccharides can enhance Concanavalin A and bacterial lipopolysaccharide-induced proliferation reactions of splenocytes, increase the number of specific antibody-secreting cells, enhance heterotypic splenocyte-induced hypersensitivity reactions, and enhance the killing capacity of splenotoxic T lymphocytes.(18) Experiments also have shown that polyporus polysaccharides can enhance the phagocytic and bactericidal functions of the human neutrophilic granulocytes,(19) and that it has a dose-dependent and interferon-g (TFN-g)-synergistic effects that promote the production of nitric oxide by the mice’s macrophage.(20)

Anti-mutagenic and antidotal effects

When administered to mice by intraperitoneal injection at 0.8, 1.2, 1.6, and 4.0mg/kg, polyporus polysaccharides have inhibited cyclophosphamide-induced micronucleus formation with inhibition rates of 17.34%, 25.22%, 37.03%, 42.51%, and 55.12%, respectively.(21) Polyporus polysaccharides can also inhibit a cyclophosphamide-induced increase in the MNR of bone marrow PCE (perchloroethylene), and inhibit cyclophosphamide-induced decreases in white and red blood cell counts and hemalbumin (Hb).(22) When used in combination with cisplatin, polyporus polysaccharides can enhance the latter’s inhibitory effect on transplanted S180, Lewis, and H22 tumors in mice, as well as reducing cisplatin’s side effects (e.g., causing a drop in white blood count, atrophy of immune organs, and a reduction in the macrophage’s phagocytic function).(23)

Liver-protecting effect

Experiments have shown that polyporus polysaccharides can lessen carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)- and D-aminogalactose-induced damage to liver tissues, and promote recovery from these damages. It has also promoted the generation of the hepatitis B surface antibody (HbsAb) in guinea pigs and Assamese macaques, and enhanced of the ability of celiac macrophage in normal and injured mice livers to release H2O2.(24),(25) When administered to mice by intraperitoneal injection at 0.25mg per mouse, polyporus polysaccharides have shown to have a moderate inhibitory effect on the expression of hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) in the serum of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-transgenic mice.(26)

Agarikon

Historical records indicate that Agarikon may have been the most important medicinal mushroom of ancient Europe. The earliest preserved record dates to 65 B.C., when it was listed by Greek physician Dioscorides in Materia Medica as a remedy for tuberculosis.

It may be a species of a bygone era.  Agarikon is practically extinct in Europe. Most remaining Agarikon mushrooms are now found in the moist old growth rain forests of western North America.   Fortunately, it can be cultivated, so there is no immediate risk of loosing the genetic material.

There is little modern research on the medicinal use of Agarikon extract but traditional use of this medicinal mushroom included tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and pneumonia (Bacillus pneumoniae and others).  It’s also been used topically as a poultice to relieve muscle and skeletal pain.

Congruent with this is a report from Poland, listing the historical uses of Agarikon extract to have included lung conditions (coughing, asthma) and rheumatoid arthritis, but also infected wounds and open bleeding.  It is said to have been considered an elixir for long life.

In North America, it is believed that Agarikon extract was used by Native Americans as protection from smallpox and other diseases brought over by the Europeans.  But there is no definite written record of this information.  The Haida Native American mythological tradition also retains a connection between Agarikon and the female creator spirit Raven, and with female sexuality.

Two mentions in modern scientific literature include Agarikon extract with other mushrooms that elicit a strong immune enhancing effect in subjects.

Finally, it should be noted that in spite of its common name synonyms “Quinine Fungus” or “Quinine Conk,” Agarikon does not contain the compound quinine and is not effective in the use against malaria.

Mesima

Phellinus linteus, also known as Sang-Hwang, Mesima or Meshimakobu has long been used in traditional medicine. Mesima is especially rich in beta 1-3 glucans and has been shown to cause increased production of T cells and B cells. Along with increasing white blood cell counts, mesima has also demonstrated an ability to increase the activity of macrophages and natural killer cells.

Alive Mega Nutritionals and Hepatitis Virus

As describe on my previous article Hepatitis is a viral infection whose primary target is our liver, as a virus, your primary defense against it is an anti-viral vaccine and there are available vaccine that targets a specific type of Hepatitis virus.

The role of Alive Mega Nutritional in the fight with Hepatitis or Hepatitis virus still remain in question although a number of its active ingredients do have properties that may alleviate the afflicted person (liver regeneration properties inherent to reishi mushroom, anti-inflamatory affects for liver inflamations) and to some could have some inhibiting effects against specific type of Hepatitis virus particularly the Hepatitis B (although this test had been used only on lab rats).

Indirectly, Alive Mega Nutritional can help in the figth against Hepatitis, as first and foremost its active ingredients promotes the production of powerful anti-bodies and cancer fighting cells – that is why it has been an effective food supplement for cancer patients since its introduction to the market. Second, its ingredients help heals body internally and externally through cell regeneration and lastly it gives the patient the enegy boost they need to sustain themselve at the same time provides them with the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals.

Again I stressed that ALIVE is not intended to replace your medication but it is intended to supplement your medication. I hope this article would prove to be useful.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.