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The advantages of berries

According to researchers feeding rats with black raspberries reduces the risk of colon cancer. It is well known that a good intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer. Now researchers are beginning to find out more about the protective compounds that various types of produce contain. //The latest report, from researchers at Hopkins University, is about black raspberries -and how they may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Groups of rats that had been given a compound that causes colon cancer were fed a diet with varying amounts of freeze-dried black raspberries, and compared to animals whose diet did not contain the berries. All the rats developed tumour-like growths - but they were 70 per cent fewer in the animals fed the berries.

The researchers think that compounds in the berries can mop up free radicals - groups of atoms produced within the cell which otherwise may trigger the growth of a tumour. Black raspberries do contain an extraordinarily wide range of beneficial compounds - compared to other berries and fruits. They are full of anthocyanins, which give them their dark colour, phenols like ellagic acid (also found in strawberries), vitamins A, C and E, and folic acid.

The researchers also compared the ability of black raspberries to absorb free radicals with blueberries and strawberries. The raspberries had 11 per cent more absorbing ability than blueberries, and 40 per cent more than raspberries. Even if you can't easily get hold of black raspberries, this study suggests it could be worthwhile making one of your daily servings of fruit and vegetables a bowl of berries.


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