The medicine of berries

Colorful, small fruits - commonly known as berries - are essential for human health. We've been eating them since before we were human, and owe much of what we are to these little delicacies. Red wine, a berry product, has been in the news for a long time. More recently, the goji (a variety of lycii berry) has gotten a lot of attention. Elderberries, which also make a delicious wine, can boost immunity and have been used as antivirals for centuries.
Some of the medicinal value of berries relates to their content of polyphenolic compounds from the flavonoid class. These chemicals are responsible for much of the color of plants in general, but are most concentrated in small fruits. Though their specific physiological effects vary, they all play an important role in protecting and balancing the cardiovascular system, DNA and its reproductive pathways, the liver, and the immune system. When you consider how crucial these deep physiological functions are to our overall wellbeing and longevity, you can see why folks get so enthusiastic about the health benefits of berries!
It's a wrap for the berry season up here in Vermont, but while we're on the subject:
  • Molecular Nutrition and Food Research has a recent issue entirely devoted to the medicine of common berries, in conditions such as infection, heart disease, urinary problems, and more.
  • The Herbwife's Kitchen hosted a blog party that featured summer berries and some excellent recipes.
  • Rose hips are berries, too. But every part of the rose is rich in the same chemistry that makes berries great (as is blueberry leaf, for example).
Fresh blueberries soaked in rose syrup, with a little dab of cream, anyone?

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I added an update to the blog party with a link to this post!