Thursday, July 21, 2011

When having the blues is a good thing: blueberries and cancer prevention

Blueberry season is in full swing, with several blueberry farms located right here in Alabama. Now is the perfect time to stock up on this delicious and nutritious fruit.

What makes blueberries so healthy? They're full of antioxidants, flavonoids and other vitamins, which are involved in the prevention of cell damage.

"Antioxidants protect cells by stabalizing free radicals and can prevent some of the damage they cause," explains Laura Newton M.A.Ed., R.D., L.D., an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB.

Cellular damage is one of the factors in the development of cancer, leading many to believe that a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables may help to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Cellular damage is caused by free radicals, atoms that contain an odd number of electrons and are highly reactive. "Some studies have shown that antioxidants may help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer," explains Newton, a licensed dietician who often works with cancer patients.

Consuming fresh, raw blueberries ensures the most nutritious benefits. Blueberry juice and other products may be nutritious, but be aware that they often contain sugar or corn syrup and other products that may decrease their nutritional value.

And how many blueberries do you need to eat to reap the benefits? The average serving size of blueberries is one-cup raw, which contains about 80 calories, and Newton says, "the latest guidelines are to make half your plate consist of fruits and vegetables. Getting a variety of fruits and vegetables insures you will get an array of antioxidant nutrients."

Blueberries and other nutrients-rich foods are continually being studied at places like the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center where investigators are researching the link between cancer and nutrition.

Grab some blueberries before the season is over! Get them fresh at local farmers markets, fruits stands or even pick your own at a local blueberrry farm!

Check out this recipe for a Healthified Blueberry-Lemon Tart, provided by UAB Eat Right.

1 comment:

dreambake said...

As the researchers argue, free radicals, atoms that contain an odd number of electrons and are highly reactive, can cause cell damage, one of the factors that promote cancer growth, many believe that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk.