Better Berries to Fight Cancer

By Lindsay Wilson

The next time you toss a handful of berries into your morning smoothie, reach for freeze-dried instead of fresh or frozen. Science now indicates that freeze-dried berries, specifically black raspberries, inhibit cancer development by restoring hundreds of cancer-altered genes to their normal state.

“There are certain genes that play a role in the development of cancer, and while most cancer treatments only target one gene at a time, the berries have a ‘genome-wide’ effect, meaning they target many cancer-causing genes at once,” says lead researcher Gary D. Stoner, professor of pathology, human nutrition, and medicine at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Berries are about 90 percent water and freeze-drying them removes the water while leaving the structure intact. This concentrates the cancer-preventive compounds—vitamins, minerals, phenols, and phytosterols—about 10 times, explains Stoner. He adds that fresh and frozen berries are probably protective as well, but we’d have to eat a lot more of them to get the same benefits. Also, keep in mind that some nutrients are lost when fruit is heated or cooked, so it’s best to eat your berries (freeze-dried or fresh) just as they are.

We like: Just Tomatoes, Etc.’s variety of organic dried berries, including Organic Just Raspberries ($5.50, 1.5 oz tub; justtomatoes.com), or Wilderness Family Naturals freeze-dried organic raspberries in either whole or powdered form. ($22.45 to $18.50, 8 oz whole or powdered; wildernessfamilynaturals.com).