by Randy Hartnell
Sweet, succulent, certified-organic Vital Choice wild blueberries deliver bountiful anti-aging benefits in superbly delicious fashion. As famed nutrition expert Andrew Weil, M.D. explains, "Blueberries pack the most powerful antioxidant punch of any fresh vegetable or fruit because they contain plentiful amounts of anthocyanins, which are the pigments that give red and purple fruits their color."
Like blueberries, strawberries and red raspberries are rich in anthocyanin pigments, ranking #5 and #6 for antioxidant capacity respectively. This is just one reason why we’re very pleased to introduce certified-organic Vital Choice strawberries and red raspberries. Flash-frozen right after harvest, they retain all of the vibrant color, rich fragrance, and intense flavor and you expect from premium quality berries—minus the heavy pesticide residues that characterize their conventionally grown counterparts (to get started using them see our berry recipes).
Sweet, succulent anti-aging superstars
Strawberries and red raspberries—especially organically grown ones—are considered some of the best anti-aging allies you can put on a plate. The benefits of these berries flow largely from their strong antioxidant action against free radicals: the unstable oxygen compounds produced as a normal byproduct of metabolism. Left unchecked, free radicals can damage the body’s own cells.
Normally, the body's own internal antioxidant system can keep free radicals under control. However, the sugars and refined starches in modern diets and the pollutants common in today's air and water generate abnormally large amounts of bodily free radicals. Without help from antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, this excess of free radicals can overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defense network: an imbalance that inevitably results in age-accelerating free radical damage to the body’s cells.
The results of numerous studies* indicate that berries offer powerful protection against cardiovascular disease, senility, and cancer—thanks in large part to their extraordinary antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, their anthocyanin pigments help the body block, detoxify, and eliminate carcinogens, and repair DNA damage. Berry anthocyanins also reduce inflammation in arteries, prevent oxidation of cholesterol, and enhance vascular dilation and flexibility.
Strawberries are also high in folic acid, dietary fiber and potassium, while red raspberries contain calcium, vitamins such as A, C, E, folic acid, and cholesterol-lowering fiber.
The pesticide problem
Unfortunately, strawberries and red raspberries rank high on another, less desirable scale. Because these delicate berries are highly vulnerable to fungi and speedy spoilage, they’re heavily sprayed with anti-fungal pesticides—which their pebbled surfaces trap and make very hard to wash off. In fact, according to research by the well regarded non-profit Environmental Working Group, strawberries and raspberries rank #3 and #11 among the "dirty dozen" produce items with the highest levels of pesticide residues.**
Our certified-organic solution
To enjoy all the culinary and health benefits of berries, it’s smart to pick fruits grown organically, in rich, healthy soil, without petrochemical pesticides. Naturally, all of our new Vital Choice strawberries and raspberries are certified organic. Enjoy!
- Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17.
- Xu JW, Ikeda K, Yamori Y. Upregulation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase by Cyanidin-3-Glucoside, a Typical Anthocyanin Pigment. Hypertension. 2004 Jun 28
- Xue H, Aziz RM, Sun N, Cassady JM, Kamendulis LM, Xu Y, Stoner GD, Klaunig JE. Inhibition of cellular transformation by berry extracts. Carcinogenesis. 2001 Feb;22(2):351-6.
- Bickford PC, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph J. Effects of aging on cerebellar noradrenergic function and motor learning: nutritional interventions. Mech Ageing Dev. 1999 Nov;111(2-3):141-54.
- Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, Bielinski D, Martin A, McEwen JJ, Bickford PC. Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8114-21.
- Bickford PC, Gould T, Briederick L, Chadman K, Pollock A, Young D, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph J. Antioxidant-rich diets improve cerebellar physiology and motor learning in aged rats. Brain Res. 2000 Jun 2;866(1-2):211-7.**The EWG’s rankings were based on an analysis of more than 100,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 1992 - 2001 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Contamination was measured in six different ways and crops were ranked based on a composite score from all categories (see http://www.foodnews.org/reportcard.php for details).