Entries in Berries (3)


Miracle Berry Diet: Could Plan Hold Key to Weight Loss?

John Wang/Photodisc/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- Could a wild berry grown in West Africa change the future of food and dieting as we know it?

The answer is a resounding "yes" from Homaro Cantu, the acclaimed chef known for his futuristic gastronomy and flavor-changing dining experiences at Chicago restaurants Moto and iNG.

Cantu discovered wild berries six years ago while working with a cancer patient who’d lost her sense of taste as a result of chemotherapy, and set out to explore the plant and put it to the test in his kitchen.

Nicknamed "the miracle berry," the organic, non-genetically modified plant contains a protein called miraculin, which latches on to the sour receptors on taste buds, temporarily inhibiting the taste of sour flavors, and changing the flavors in spicy, salty and bitter foods.  A glass of water with lemon tastes like lemonade after taking the miracle berry pill.

“It tricks your tongue into thinking something that’s sour, is sweet,” Cantu tells ABC's Good Morning America.

But flavor-tripping cuisine is not the only potential Cantu sees in the berries.  In his new cookbook, The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook, Cantu explains that the berries can help in eliminating sugar and sweeteners from a diet altogether.  He has developed hundreds of recipes that cut back on sugar and use the berries instead to add flavor.

The recipes in this book don’t have the miracle berry as an ingredient but are designed to interact with a miracle berry tablet.  Before eating, place a tablet on your tongue and let it dissolve completely.  It takes approximately three minutes for the pill to kick in and change sour to sweet.

Lemons taste like sweet, sweet lemonade.  Lime tastes like an orange, and the flavors of tomatoes, strawberries and more, pop, he says.  Spices are toned down and things like hot sauce or hot pepper take on a sweet dimension, he says.

On Good Morning America, Cantu demonstrated how nonfat, plain Greek yogurt could taste like cheesecake by adding lime juice and taking a miracle berry pill.  The effects of the tablets last 30 to 40 minutes.

The berries are available in a pill, powder or plant form.  Cantu recommends using the tablets because they have a longer shelf-life than buying the whole berries, which last only a day in the fridge, and are more economical, he writes in the cookbook.  The brand, mberry, sells 10 tablets for $15 on its website.  The tablets must be stored in a cool, dry place, according to Cantu.

Cantu believes miracle berries will revolutionize eating habits, and by cutting back on the amount of refined sugar in American diets, they might help curb the rate of diabetes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Are Berries the New Brain Food?

BananaStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Sweet and refreshing, berries are thought of as a summer treat, but new evidence suggests that eating these fruits regularly may also help preserve brain function.

Harvard researchers found that women who said they ate more blueberries and strawberries were more likely to display less-rapid cognitive deterioration as they aged.

“Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults,” lead author Dr. Elizabeth Devore of Harvard Medical School said in a news release.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Annals of Neurology, researchers analyzed data gathered by the Nurses Health Study in which participants had filled out questionnaires and described their dietary habits and other aspects of their lives every two to four years since 1980.

In 1995, cognitive, or intellectual, function was added to the questionnaire and was measured every two years.  When Devore and her colleagues examined the data, they found that participants who had recorded increased servings of blueberries and strawberries preserved their brain function to a greater degree than those who had not.  This remained true even after socioeconomic factors were taken into account. 

Moreover, the researchers found that those who had the highest berry intake over time could delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

Why might this be?  One theory has to do with the fact that blueberries and strawberries are both high in compounds called anthocyanidins and flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties.  The researchers believe that these two substances contribute to a delay in cognitive aging. 

Flavonoid-rich fruit juices have been found to improve short-term intellectual performance in small trials.  Anthocyanidins are a particular subclass of flavonoids, which localize in areas of learning and memory.

But don’t run to the grocery store just yet, as the study still leaves some questions.

“This is an association or correlation.  It is not proof of causality,” said Dr. Clifford Saper, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.  “Also, we do not know what component of the berries may have caused a better result.  So, to say that higher intake of flavonoids appears to reduce rates of cognitive decline is just not valid.”

The study also looked only at women.  The researchers pointed out that there is little evidence to find changes in intellectual functioning related to one’s sex.  Nonetheless, experts agree that future studies should also include men.

It is also worth noting that the study was partially funded by a berry trade group and berry eaters surveyed practiced many more healthy behaviors than the non-berry eaters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eating Berries, Drinking Tea May Cut Men's Risk for Parkinson's  

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- While Parkinson's disease is on the rise, now there may be a way to reduce the probability of men getting the disorder of the central nervous system, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.
Research from Harvard University suggest that eating foods such as berries and apples and drinking tea and red wine may protect you against the disease. That's because these food and drink items are rich in flavonoids, a water-soluble pigment, that helps to inhibit the onset of Parkinson's.

Researchers studied around 130,000 men and women for over 20 years, and 800 developed Parkinson's.

Among men, there was a 40-percent decrease in developing Parkinson's disease for those who ate the most flavonoids compared to those who ate the least.

Eating berries more than five times a week apparently had the strongest benefit -- but only for men. It is still unclear why flavonoids have no measurable impact on preventing Parkinson's disease for women.

"For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men," said lead author of the study, Dr. Xiang Gao, a research scientist at Harvard School of Public Health. "But, berries are protective in both men and women."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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