Why berries are the best at fighting cancer and aging

If you’re looking for a simple way to eat healthier, without counting calories or following a bunch of crazy diet rules, here’s a healthy eating philosophy you can follow:

Make your plate look like a rainbow.

Eating naturally colorful foods (not artificially colored foods) is one of the healthiest ways to eat, because it means you’re eating tons or fresh fruits and vegetables, and you’re not overdoing the processed foods and refined grains.

It also means you’re eating a lot of a super healthy compound that gives colorful foods their vibrant hue—anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are a flavonoid found in many fruits and veggies, but especially fruits and veggies with a rich purple, blue or red color. Berries are one of the best sources of anthocyanins, which partially explains why they’re so good for you.

In fact, a recent study shows that the anthocyanins in berries could have super healthy compound.

How anthocyanins fight cancer and aging

A new study from researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found that anthocyanins from berries impact human genes in a way that could slow aging and fight cancer.

These powerful dietary pigments boosted the function of an enzyme in cancer cells called sirtuin 6. Sirtuin enzymes impact the genes that control aging. As you get older, your body produces less of them, and scientists have long suspected that this decrease in sirtuin drives aging and age-related diseases.

So, if anthocyanins from berries bolster sirtuin production, they have serious anti-aging potential. But they also have anti-cancer potential…

Researchers found that one anthocyanin—cyanidin—switched off certain cancer genes and increased the power of a gene that suppresses tumors in colon cancer cells.

Now, this study was performed on cells in a lab, but it’s likely that those colorful berries are performing similar feats in your body. Research shows that people who eat brightly colored berries age better and are less likely to get cancer—and that’s probably because of those amazing anthocyanins.

Taste the rainbow

So, as you’re eating your rainbow-inspired diet, make sure those blue, purple and red foods are well-represented.

You can do that by eating lots of berries, like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. But if you want to get more of the anti-cancer anthocyanin cyanidin try some less common berries too. The best sources of cyanidin are off-the-beaten path berries like wild bilberry, blackcurrant and lingonberry.

Other foods that contain anthocyanins include:

  • Beets
  • Purple sweet potatoes
  • Pomegranates
  • Red cabbage
  • Black carrots
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Peaches
  • Oranges (especially blood oranges)
  • Red onions
  • Radish
  • Eggplant
  • Black rice

You can even get berry anthocyanins in a supplement. But if you’re transforming your plate into a rainbow daily, you’re probably getting more than enough anthocyanins the old-fashioned way.

Editor’s note: How would you like to lower your risk of cancer even more? In fact, you can discover how to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s too, if you understand your master hormone’s role in helping to disease-proof your body. Click here to learn how

Sources:

  1. Eat a Colorful Diet — RUSH. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  2. New health benefits discovered in berry pigment — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  3. Rahnasto-Rilla, et al. “Natural polyphenols as sirtuin 6 modulators.” — Scientific Reports, 2018.
  4. Berries Seem to Burst with Cancer Protection — American Institute for Cancer Research. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  5. Paredes-López, et al. “Berries: improving human health and healthy aging, and promoting quality life–a review.” — Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Sep 2010;65(3):299-308.
  6. Wu, et al. “Concentrations of Anthocyanins in Common Foods in the United States and Estimation of Normal Consumption.” — Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Apr. 2006, 54 (11), pp 4069–4075.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.