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Blueberry juice found to fight cancer and improve health

I'm looking for a healthy alternative to carbonated beverages and typical fruit juices. Can you suggest a natural fruit juice that tastes good and has proven health benefits?

There are so many healthy natural fruit juices available that it's difficult to name only one, but for starters you can try blueberry juice. It's not only delicious, but also happens to be one of the most naturally health-boosting beverages you're likely to find at your local health food store. The potential health benefits it offers you make it a far superior choice to regular soft drinks and many other types of juices.

Blueberries contain free radical-fighting anthocyanins and other health-protective compounds, including pterostilbene, a cholesterol-lowering agent that also has anti-cancer properties. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2005 reported that the phenols found in blueberries inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and increase apoptosis, or the death of cancer cells.

We also know that blueberries, which are loaded with antioxidants, can help support the blood vessel walls and play a role in protecting the brain from oxidative stress (important in treating the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, and many other conditions). In addition, blueberries contain a compound known as D-mannose, which can help prevent urinary tract infections by interfering with the ability of bacteria to adhere to the cell walls in the urethra and bladder. And on top of all that, the tannins found in blueberries can help reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines.

With so many natural health benefits, and with its uniquely sweet flavor and dark purple hue, blueberry juice makes you want to forget all those claims you've heard about wine being good for your health: you can enjoy a great-tasting beverage full of natural nutritional advantages without having to put a known toxin (alcohol) into your body.

There are many varieties of blueberries, which accounts for subtle differences in flavor and color from one batch of blueberry juice to the next. Try to buy fresh juice and, as always, choose organic if it's available. As you might expect, research suggests that the lower the level of pesticide residues and other unnatural ingredients, the greater the potential benefits for your health.

There are no known cautions to drinking blueberry juice, unless you're diabetic or have an allergy to the berries. You can indulge in a glass of fresh blueberry juice at any time of day, with or between meals. Keep a bottle on hand in your refrigerator, and add a splash of purple nutrition-power to your smoothies!

Dr. Laurie Steelsmith is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist in Honolulu, as well as author of the new book Natural Choices for Women's Health, published by Random House. You can reach her and read her past columns at www.drsteelsmith.com. This column is for information only. Consult your health provider for medical advice.


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