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Byline: By Jon Harry Wales on Sunday

They're the taste of Wimbledon - so it's the perfect excuse to have a berry healthy summer!

British strawberries and raspberries are now coming into the shops and the good news is they taste delicious and help you look great.

Really low in calories, these fruits are natural beauty aids and can either be eaten or used in simple DIY skin treatments at home - or both.

Nutritionist Lyndel Costain says: 'They are definitely special foods. They are a good source of vitamin C and a portion of strawberries, seven of them, provides the recommended daily allowance of 60mg.

'They are both low in calories with only 22 per portion, a portion of raspberries is two handfuls.

'Their red colour is thanks to powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. But their secret weapon is natural plant compound called ellagic acid. In laboratory studies it has a range of anti-cancer effects.

'Overall, raspberries and strawberries pack a powerful antioxidant punch.'

The antioxidant properties of raspberries and strawberries are so good at protecting cells in the body from damaging free radicals, that a report from the United States Department of Agriculture ranked them 10th and 11th in the list of the top antioxidant foods.

Here is how these berries help you feel and look so good...

Both strawberries and raspberries are high in vitamin C which aids the formation of collagen - necessary for healthy, youthful skin. What's more, ellagic acid in both fruits neutralises the carcinogen PAH which is found in cigarette smoke, an enemy of good skin.

As well as eating them, berries are a great ingredient in home facials. For a berry face mask, crush a handful of berries and mix well with a teaspoon of honey. Apply to face and leave to set for 15 minutes. Gently wipe off with a damp face cloth.

For a yoghurt face mask, combine half a cucumber, one tablespoon of yoghurt, a few strawberries and one teaspoon of honey in a blender. Apply and allow to dry before wiping off with a damp face cloth.

Strawberries can also be used for sunburn relief. Simply mash a few ripe ones and apply to the burned area. Remove after 20 minutes.

In animal studies, researchers found strawberries help protect the brain from stress and may reduce the effects of getting older. Ageing rats fed strawberry-rich diets significantly improved their learning capacity and motor skills.

Vitamin C helps keep us supple. In a recent study, people who consumed low doses of the vitamin were three times more likely to develop arthritis. To get the most vitamin C out of your berries try to eat them soon after they are picked.

Berries have high amounts of phenols which protect the heart. In Finland, which used to rank alongside Scotland in the heart disease league, people are eating more berries and have dramatically improved heart health.

In one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most likely to lower rates of cancer deaths. Those eating them were three times less likely to develop cancer than those eating few or no strawberries.

Raspberries too may have the potential to inhibit cancer cell and tumour growth. They have 50 per cent more cancer-fighting antioxidants than strawberries and 10 times as much as tomatoes. Cooking doesn't seem to destroy antioxidants.

Raspberries appear to be able to prevent certain infections as they halt the growth of bacteria and fungi in the body.

Studies suggest raspberries can stop the growth of the yeast candida albicans which is the cause of vaginal infections and can be a contributing cause in irritable bowel syndrome.

They are also a good source of fibre and pectin which helps control cholesterol levels.

Your granny may have told you carrots would make you see in the dark but studies have found fruit such as raspberries and strawberries could do it better.

People eating three or more servings of fruit a day increased their chances of keeping good vision by 36 per cent.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 2, 2006
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