Why eating fruit can be berry good news

Berries can boost your health
Berries can boost your health
Paige Howitt

NATIONAL: Young woman with incurable condition which leaves her in constant pain forced to sleep next to a freezer

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Berries – or chokeberries, native to North America, to be precise – have been in the news.

Researchers from the University of Southampton and King’s College Hospital, London found they could work in combination with conventional drugs to kill cancer cells, particularly in pancreatic cancer.

However, it’s still early days and so far the research has only been carried out on cancer cells in labs, not in human trials.

‘It’s far too early to say from this small laboratory study whether chemicals extracted from chokeberries have any effect on pancreatic cancer in patients, and the findings certainly don’t suggest that the berries themselves should be taken alongside conventional chemotherapy,’ says Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK’s science information manager.

‘That said, innovative approaches are urgently needed to improve treatment for people with pancreatic cancer.’

Nell Barrie, senior science communications manager also from Cancer Research, adds that for all the halos placed on so-called superfoods: ‘The best scientific evidence shows there’s no such thing as a superfood, so eating any one specific food isn’t going to help treat or prevent cancer.

‘Research looking at different diets and lifestyles shows that a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to reduce your risk of cancer.’

Here are some berries to help you be more healthy.

STRAWBERRIES

Rich source of phenols, which are thought to be cancer-preventing antioxidants and mop up free radicals (which can lead to cancer) in the blood.

BLUEBERRIES

The original, go-to superfood, blueberries are not only packed with vitamin C, thought to slow down mental ageing and help combat free radicals that play a role in skin wrinkles; they’re also jammed with those crucial anti-cancer antioxidants.

CRANBERRIES

They’ve long been known to help fight bladder infections and cystitis, but research has suggested that these bright little berries also help combat H.pylori, a bacteria associated with peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer.

POMEGRANATES

Not strictly a berry, but pomegranates do have berry-sized seeds. Scientists say the fruit contains chemicals that can potentially reduce cell damage and help kill off cancer cells in men with prostate cancer. Ellagitannins, an ingredient in pomegranates, might also help to slow the growth of breast cancer tumours.