Health Glossary

Berry, Vegetable, and Fruit Words from the Realm of Science and Medicine

For most of us, berries, fruits and vegetables are just a tasty and healthful treat. For researchers they offer a cornucopia of compounds that increasingly appear to be associated with better health

  • Anthocyanidins

    Color pigments in berries which are antioxidants and associated with lower cancer risks and better health when aging when it comes to the urinary tract and memory functions. These red, blue and purple pigments may preserve brain functions which deteriorate with age.

  • What is the buzz about antioxidants?

    Plant products — fruits vegetables but particularly berries — contain a host of antioxidants that, when eaten, can protect the human body by neutralizing free radicals or unstable oxygen molecules which damage cells and are a major source of disease and age related disabilities.

    Through photosynthesis plants convert the sun’s energy into energy plants can use. But plants need to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Antioxidants and other phytochemicals, including dark pigments, are the protection plants create. Humans, when they eat plants, use these same antioxidants to rid and neutralize the free radicals and unstable oxygen that are bi-products of natural processes and environmental harm.
  • Catechins
    These specific flavonols found in berries and green tea are thought to support the body’s antioxidant defense system.
  • Dietary Fiber
    Helps lower blood cholesterol, reduces conditions linked to heart disease, facilitates healthy digestion.
  • Ellagic Acid
    Scientists believe ellagic acid plays a major role in tumor reversal and cancer prevention. Plus this phenolic compound has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Flavonoids
    Under study for anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce onset of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The British Journal of Nutrition in 2007 noted, “Flavonoids, a large group of polyphenolic compounds abundant in vegetables, fruits and berries, may be responsible for the health-promoting effects of plant foods. To date several epidemiological studies on flavonoid intake and the risk of cardio vascular disease have been published and the results suggest that flavonoids may protect against cardiovascular disease.”
  • Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
    Particularly necessary for pregnant women, deficiencies of folic acid are linked to birth defects, increased risk of colon cancer and age-related hearing loss.
  • Gallic Acid
    Antioxidant specifically linked to inhibiting cell proliferation in prostrate cancer.
  • Lutin and Zeaxanthin
    Found together in nature these are concentrated in the human retina.
  • Lycopone
    Identified as reducing the risk from a host of cancers, lycopene has been particularly associated with tomatoes.
  • Magnesium
    Helps maintain normal blood pressure and essential to healthy bones and teeth.
  • Nutrients
    Nutrients are compounds in food that provide energy, structural materials and regulating agents essential for life. There are six classes of nutrients: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.
  • Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity
    ORAC as it is known is a means of measuring the ability of a substance to sponge up the free radicals which can damage DNA and facilitate cancer. The ORAC assay measures the free radical scavenging activity against the most common reactive oxygen species found in the body. Berries and other fruits and vegetables have the highest ORAC scores among all consumed foods.
  • Phytochemicals
    Non-nutritive chemicals in plant based foods that promote health or decrease the risks of disease or effects of aging. While not “essential to life,” phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, terepenes and phytosterols contribute to health in a myriad of ways.
  • Proanthocyanidins
    A compound found in blueberries and cranberries that may help prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the wall of the urinary tract.
  • Quercetin
    A flavonol that operates as an anti-carcinogen, an antioxidant and protects against cancer and heart disease. Linked to increased sports endurance.
  • Rutin
    A bioflavonoid associated with vascular health and with anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.
  • Salicylates
    Shown to inhibit the production of COX -I and COX -II enzymes, salicylates may help reduce pain associated with arthritis, gout and other inflammatory conditions. Salicylic acid may work like small doses of aspirin to inhibit anteriosclerosis.
  • Vitamin A
    Helps vision, embryonic development, growth and immune functions.
  • Vitamin B1
    Supports the metabolism.
  • Vitamin B2
    Helps metabolize other vitamins and minerals and facilates antioxidants.
  • Vitamin B3
    Works with over 200 enzymes to metabolize energy.
  • Vitamin B6
    Vital to repairing DNA.
  • Vitamin B7
    Helps the body to utilize glucose.
  • Vitamin C
    This vitamin, made of absorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant and essential for health by absorbing iron, supporting collagen formation and bone strength.