From the USDA to the NIH to the CDC to the MOM, health officials and parents alike are imploring: Eat more fruit. Recently, researchers following 118,428 participants in the long-term Nurse's Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that individuals eating three or more servings of fruit daily had a 36% reduced incidence of maculopathy, an untreatable age-related eye disease, compared to those eating less than one-and-a-half daily servings. Other studies show how specific fruits affect health at a molecular level, possibly pointing to new bounties in drug discovery, and demonstrating the efficacy of compounds already on the shelf – the grocer's shelf, that is.
How Cranberries Could Prevent Urinary Tract infections
Like chicken soup for colds, conventional wisdom says that cranberry juice can prevent urinary tract infections. It turns out, this may hold up under scientific scrutiny. Cranberries produce an unusual version of proanthocyanidin, a condensed tannin....
Better Aging Blueberries
Blueberries outperform other fruits in improving the circulatory system, with benefits for the ailing heart, failing eyesight, and aging brain, thanks in part to the anthocyanin pigments that make blueberries blue. James Joseph, a neurologist in a US Department of Agriculture lab at Tufts University, Boston, found that Alzheimer disease (AD)-model mice that were fed blueberry anthocyanins have increased activity of MAP kinases such as PKC and CREB, which are associated with learning and short-term memory. Moreover, the AD mice perform with cognitively on par with non-Alzheimer mice. The equivalent of a cup of berries a day provided a beneficial dose. In humans, blueberry anthocyanins may resensitize the age-dulled receptors for neurotransmitter signals and revive the brain's flagging neuronal communication system.)
Killing Cancer with Grape Skins
Previous studies attributed a reduction of heart disease in people who drink red wine to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skins. The same mechanism that makes resveratrol an anti-inflammatory agent also helps it fight cancer, reports Marty Mayo at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. Resveratrol inhibits the transcription factor NF-κB that stimulates genes responsible for cell survival, inflammation, and the proliferation that runs rampant in cancer. When applied to cancer cells, resveratrol sensitizes them to tumor necrosis factor-α, which initiates apoptosis. As a future drug treatment, resveratrol could both enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and relieve arthritis and atherosclerosis.