Super Food: Black Raspberries
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"First, berries (black raspberries in particular) are an easy way to consume a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and hundreds of other cancer-fighting phytochemicals."
"Second, they are anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-metastatic, anti-angiogenic, and they are anti-oxidants. We're talking about preventing tumor formation and progression on a microscopic level."
-Christine L. Sardo, MPH, RD, Canyon Ranch Institute, and former manager the Cancer Chemoprevention Clinical Trials at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, Ohio
"We identified a food that, if eaten regularly, might potentially have an effect on the cause of a lot of gastric problems and perhaps even ultimately help prevent stomach cancer."
"We know that a dose of a couple ounces a day of broccoli sprouts is enough to elevate the body's protective enzymes. That is the mechanism by which we think a lot of the chemoprotective effects are occurring."
"We knew [sulforaphane] knocked the heck out of the bacteria in the test tube, but now we've shown in this pilot clinical study that it works on infected humans too."
Jed Fahey, nutritional biochemist in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Cancer Prevention Research, April 2009
The Latin name for dandelion--Taraxacum officinale--"loosely translated, means, "official remedy for the disorders".
Dandelions rank in the top four green vegetables in overall nutritional value. Which may be the reason for its reputed cancer prevention abilities.
Dandelions are nature's richest green-vegetable source of beta-carotene, with high concentrations of lutein, and the third richest source of vitamin A of all foods.
--adapted from Jonny Bowden's "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth"--
Bags of frozen black raspberries. Boxes of Brocco Sprouts. A bunch of dandelion greens. A bag of escarole. Yep, those are the new everyday additions to my refrigerator!
About three weeks ago I spent about 3 1/2 hours at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks soaking in everything that my friend Cheri had learned from her 5 day visit to the Canyon Ranch health and wellness spa in Arizona.
She was there for Livestrong week, which was co-sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the entire week was devoted to diet, exercise, lifestyle changes that can prevent or modify cancer.
It was one of those life-changing-mind-altering-diet-and-habit-changing weeks for Cheri, and I was thrilled that she shared so much of what she learned from her 5 day adventure.
She met and talked to the top preventive medicine experts in the country, including Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th U.S. Surgeon General, Christine Sardo, a nutrition expert in cancer chemoprevention, and Dr. Andrew Weil.
There's just way too much to share in one post, but I wanted to quickly pass on the 3 new super foods I've now added to my fridge as a result of our morning talk.
All the black raspberry research is coming out of Ohio State University, and it's lead by Dr. Gary Stoner--who is the man who discovered that ellagic acid inhibited tumor growth. For a list of Dr. Stoner's articles on black raspberries, click here.
Turns out that black raspberries have been successful in preventing both oral, colon, mammary & esophageal cancers in Stoner's lab rats.
Right now, the human trials are underway, and Stoner's enrollees are slurping down black raspberry smoothies or sucking on black raspberry lozenges--hoping to prevent cancer in patients with pre-cancerous or early stage lesions of the esophagus, mouth, and colon.
Early studies show that the berries slow tumor growth, and reduce cancer risk significantly.
Here's the black raspberry advantage:
- They are the richest source of ellagic acid: an effective anti-tumor agent. It's found mostly in the seeds of the berry & to a lesser degree in the pulp. Forget about the juice!
- They have the highest anti-oxidant activity of any other berry--loaded with hundreds of highly active phytochemicals, like carotenoids & polyphenols, that work synergistically.
- They are high in anthocyanins, potent anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories--and this is what gives the berries their dark purple color.
- Berries just might be the natural counterpart to synthetic drugs like Tamoxifen
- For the amateur gardeners out there: the Jewel variety of black raspberries has the highest levels of ellagic acid & anthocyanin--and that's what Stoner uses in his lab. By the way--Stoner's berries came from the Stokes Berry farm in Wilmington, Ohio--grown on a 1 acre plot.
How much do you need to eat?
- Dr. Stoner's patients are given 2 ounces of freeze-dried black raspberries daily, the equivalent of about a pound of berries a day.
- Christine Sardo recommends 2 cups of whole berries, eaten 3 or more times times per week to take full advantage of black raspberries health benefits. That's the human equivalent of the amount found to be beneficial in lab rats.
- I've been enjoying the berries in my daily green smoothie, or as an evening snack. You will definitely notice the seeds in this berry!
Where can I get black raspberries?
- Whole fresh berries are hard to find, available only 1-2 months out of the year, and they rot quickly.
- I found 12 ounce packages of frozen black raspberries at Trader Joe's for $1.99 a package--which contains 2.5 cups of berries. I couldn't find freeze-dried berries anywhere, but I didn't look online.
- Fiber content: 7 grams; Calories for 1 cup: 80; Vitamin C for 1 cup: 60% of daily requirements.
- Can't find black raspberries? Don't worry, strawberries and blackberries work as well in chemoprevention. Unfortunately, blueberries aren't a worthy substitute.
What's so great about broccoli sprouts?
- Discovered by Johns Hopkins scientists back in 1997-- three-day old broccoli sprouts have 20-50 times the chemoprotective compounds of mature broccoli. To read more click here.
- Sulforaphaneglucosinolate (SGS) is the magical ingredient in broccoli sprouts, and numerous studies have shown it to neutralize cancer-causing chemicals before they can promote cancer. Johns Hopkins scientists identified this chemical in 1992.
- Reduces exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco, environmental carcinogens, & harmful chemicals from food.
- Increases the body's defense system against carcinogens--neutralizing cancer-causing chemicals, and free radicals before they can cause damage to the body.
- Animal studies have shown SGS to block tumor development in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bladder cancer. Recently, SGS has been shown to reduce arterial inflammation. Human studies are ongoing and have shown to be effective in arresting H. pylori (the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers), gastritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and preventing UV skin damage. For a list of studies click here.
Are raw sprouts safe to eat?
- Not to worry. Buy only the brand Brocco Sprouts brand that's produced by Brassica Protection Products LLC--created, patented, and licensed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. They ensure that the sprouts have the highest levels of SGS, and they follow the highest safety practices. To read more click here.
How do the sprouts taste? Where can you find them? How much do they cost?
- The taste is mild. My Thanksgiving visitors loved them on sandwiches. My friend Cheri puts them on salads.
- I found them at Whole Foods where they sell pre-packaged salad greens. Check your grocery store. Only trust the Brocco Sprouts variety, with the Johns Hopkins University Seal!
- These are not cheap--around $4.99 for a 4 ounce box, which contains 4 servings--the amount recommend by the Johns Hopkins researchers.
For the original Johns Hopkins Broccoli Sprouts story on video, click here if you can't see the video:
The Chicory-Family of Greens
What's the deal with chicory greens?
- The dietitians at Canyon Ranch rave about, and recommend eating salad greens from the chicory family. That means: arugula, dandelion greens, radicchio, escarole, chicory (if you can find it) and endive.
- They're high in vitamin C, folate, and calcium. Leafy chicory--if you can find it--has the highest nutritional content of them all--with dandelion greens coming in a close second.
- According to Dr. Jonny Bowden (author of 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth), dandelion greens contain taraxacin, which benefits the digestive system, and aids the liver--think clearing out toxins.
- One cup of cooked dandelion greens contain 147 mg of calcium, 244 mg of blood-pressure-lowering potassium, 203 mg of bone-building vitamin K, 3 grams of fiber, 10,000 IU of vitamin A, and about 5,000 mcg of lutein & zeaxanthin--which protect against macular degeneration.
- According to Canyon Ranch's Christine Sardo, in 1 cup of cooked greens in the chicory family you'll get over 600% of your daily vitamin K, over 150% of your daily vitamin A, and 65% of your daily vitamin C--plus a host of anti-oxidants that are essential for cancer prevention. Plus their high folate content protects against colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer.
My Favorite Dandelion Greens Recipes
- I LOVE this easy-to-make, nutritional powerhouse of a soup. And I'm making it tomorrow when my sister comes to visit! Provencal Greens Soup, from Martha Rose Shulman.
- This winner comes from sister-in-law, who is a fantastic cook: Rachel Ray's Dandelion Greens Gumbo with Good Thyme Rice. Cut the oil way back, & use brown rice!
My Question to All of You:
Would you have preferred a much shorter post with just a brief mention of my new 3 favorite super foods--without all this detail? It certainly would have taken me a lot less time to write!
I really want your feedback on this!