Glorious red grapes and blueberries are sweet treats to throw into your cereal, on top of your yogurt, incorporate into your baking, or are an easy, grab-and-go snack. These nutritious, nutrient-filled, low calorie fruits are packed with antioxidants that will make you feel good about munching on them. But aside from antioxidants, research has stumbled upon a brand new list of reasons that loading up on blueberries and red grapes is a good idea, and can even save your life.
The Link between Antioxidants, Vitamin D and Your Immune Health
To pinpoint food-based compounds that help enhance the human immune system, an analysis was conducted on 446 different compounds. Researchers at Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute have found that out of all the compounds studied, resveratrol in red grapes and pterostilbene from blueberries are among the strongest immune system boosters. The compounds are called stilbenoids, which are produced by plants and effectively fight infections.
Stilbenoids also help vitamin D do its job better. They work alongside vitamin D to increase the expression of the human CAMP (cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide) gene that plays an important role in immune function. This exciting new research was recently published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. “Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing. It’s a pretty interesting interaction,” said Adrian Gombart, an associate professor in the OSU College of Science.
This isn’t the first time that resveratrol has made science headlines. Scientists have investigated the link between resveratrol and possible benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation and cancer protection. This research study is very exciting, because it’s the first to demonstrate that, in combination with vitamin D, resveratrol and pterostilbene actually boost the immune system and help us combat infection and illness. With many antibiotics losing their effectiveness, scientists are keen on learning more about the innate immune system.
While more research is needed, adding red grapes and blueberries loaded with antioxidants to your nutritious diet is a safe and delicious bet. Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that help prevent or decrease the damage that oxidation does to the human body. Oxidation produces free radicals which can do damage resulting in long-term serious health issues like heart disease, high cholesterol, age-related diseases, diabetes and even cancer.