Two Fruits Seem Superior For Your Immune System
Scientists analyzed nearly 450 compounds and found that two substances present in two delicious fruits appear far better than others when it comes to helping your immune system. Are those two fruits in your house right now?
Bring on the blueberries and red grapes
One of the fruits Oregon State University researchers have named as possessing great immune system potential is blueberries. These delicious little treats have a compound called pterostilbene, which is a type of plant biochemical called a stilbenoid.
In plants, stilbenoids help fight off infections. Stilbenoids are being studied extensively for their health-promoting potential in humans as well. For example, some research has indicated stilbenoids have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.
In this latest study, scientists also discovered that red grapes may be super immune system boosters because they possess another stilbenoid called resveratrol. You may be familiar with resveratrol, as it has been in the news quite a bit lately because of its antioxidant abilities and antiaging potential.
The researchers made their discoveries using lab cell cultures, so they cannot say with certainty that eating blueberries and red grapes will improve how your immune system functions. However, this finding adds to a treasure trove of other research that suggests blueberries and red grapes—and pterostilbene and resveratrol—may be helpful in various health conditions ranging from asthma to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and more.
How blueberries and red grapes seem to work
According to the researchers, the pterostilbene and resveratrol in these two fruits work along with vitamin D to significantly increase the expression of a certain gene, called CAMP gene, which is involved in human immune system function.
Previous studies have shown that the CAMP gene has a significant role in the body’s ability to fight bacterial infections and maintain the first line of defense. It’s already been shown that adequate levels of vitamin D are needed to support function of the CAMP gene.
Now, researchers have found that combining resveratrol and pterostilbene with vitamin D delivers a more significant impact than any of these substances can do individually.
Pterostilbene versus resveratrol
Previously, at least one study pitted pterostilbene against resveratrol. In the 2011 study, the investigators compared pterostilbene with resveratrol and the effect on reducing inflammation in the airways of individuals with asthma.
Even though pterostilbene and resveratrol are chemically related, they did not have the same impact on easing inflammation. In fact, pterostilbene seemed to provide protection for asthma that was superior to that of resveratrol.
For now, much more research into the immune system benefits of blueberries and red grapes is needed. Until then, be sure to enjoy these two fruits not only for their potential immune system abilities but for their other health benefits and, of course, their great taste.
Guo C et al. Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2013 Sep 14. DOI:10.1002/mnfr.201300266