Spring is in full bloom, and that means that something colorful and juicy is starting to show up at your local farmers market.
That's right -- it's the beginning of berry season!
Sure, you could pick up strawberries or blueberries at most grocery stores year-round. But berries picked during the peak season are naturally sweeter... plumper... and more vibrantly colored.
And according to a new study, those vivid colors may even be the key to an important benefit berries have for your health.
That's because the plant compounds that give berries their deep red, blue, or purple colors -- called "anthocyanins" -- are powerful weapons against cancer!
In the study, Finnish researchers exposed cancer cells to anthocyanins from various berries.
They found that the anthocyanins increased the activation of an enzyme called "sirtuin 6" (a.k.a. SIRT6) inside the cells.
Now, you definitely want as much SIRT6 running through your cells as possible -- because the enzyme has been linked to everything from reducing inflammation to repairing damaged DNA.
And in the study, SIRT6 also fired up a gene that's responsible for suppressing cancerous tumors -- which means that the more SIRT6 is activated in your cells, the harder it is for cancer to grow and spread.
That may be part of why berries have been shown in previous studies to not only stop cancer cells in their tracks… but also slash your risk of developing cancer in the first place.
Aside from boosting SIRT6, berries are also packed with flavonoids, ellagitannins, vitamin C, and fiber -- all of which are known cancer-fighters.
And they've even been proven to boost the effectiveness of radiation treatments.
That's a whole lot of anti-cancer potential in one pint-sized package!
Plus, the benefits of berries don't stop there. They can also boost your immune system... slash your risk of diabetes and stroke... and even protect against cognitive decline.
Now, in the study, the berries that increased SIRT6 the most were two varieties that are popular in Europe but tough to find fresh in the States: ligonberries and blackcurrants.
But if you're not jetting over to "the Continent" anytime soon, you really can't go wrong with any berry that's available right here and right now. (Just make sure it’s organic.)
Toss some colorful berries into your salads... layer them into Greek yogurt for a healthy "parfait"... or blend frozen berries into smoothies.
You can even add them to savory marinades and sauces for meat and fish.
Just don't be too tempted by berry pies and shortcakes -- because the refined carbs and sugars in these treats only up your risk of cancer.