As I stroll the farmer’s market, I get excited seeing the first signs of berry season. It brings back fond memories of my childhood when my grandmother would take my aunt and me to Styer Orchard for berry picking. We would get a basket upon entry and stroll the seemingly never-ending rows of bright red jewels. We picked two strawberries for our basket and ate one for pure joy. By the time we got to the register to pay, our fingers were red and our tummies were fuller than our baskets.
Another reason I get elated about berry season is because berries are powerful anti-aging allies. The old adage, good things come in small packages, is true. And berries don’t disappoint.
When we spend time in the sun, our skin is exposed to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. High UV exposure leads to wrinkles and thickening of skin. The skin displays that leathery, cowhide look. We’ve all seen those people.
Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries contain a natural polyphenol compound called, ellagic acid (EA). Ellagic acid reduces collagen degradation from exposure to UV rays. It also reduces inflammation associated with UV exposure.
Research shows that EA containing berries have photoprotective qualities. Eating these berries hinders wrinkles and inflammation from UV rays. EA also lessens the wrinkles and skin thickening (leather skin) from long-term UVB exposure.
Ellagic acid also performs as an antioxidant. In this capacity, EA is an excellent free radical scavenger. It also minimizes production of free radicals.
Let’s face it, as we mature our skin loses elasticity and suppleness. But we don’t have to sit back and accept it. We can fight back by eating EA containing berries.
The natural aging process causes dermal fibroblasts, cells in the dermis layer that generate connective tissue and allow skin to recover from injury, lose the ability to synthesize elastin. This negatively affects our skin elasticity, which results in less elastic skin. (News flash: saggy chicken-skin is not trendy.) EA counteracts elastic fiber degradation by increasing elastic fiber content.
A study also reveals that EA combats UV-induced skin pigmentation and sunburn. When brownish guinea pigs were orally fed pomegranate extract containing 90% EA, it suppressed UV-induced skin pigmentation.
If all that’s not enough to convince you to eat more EA containing berries, EA has anti-tumor promoting activities. Ellagic acid shows promise in inhibiting the incidence of skin tumors. 
Berry season is upon us. You can get fresh organic (yes, they must be organic to avoid toxic pesticides) blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries from May through September. It doesn’t have to stop there either. You can buy them now and freeze them for the winter months. You can also look for fresh organic cranberries and pomegranates from mid-September through February.