Jam and jelly can curb cancer, say scientists
Published 13/10/2008 | 03:57
Jelly and jam may help prevent the spread of cancer, new research suggests.
Both contain a gelling ingredient believed to block a key cancer progression pathway in the body.
Pectin, a natural fibre product found in fruits and vegetables, is widely used in food processing.
New research has shown that under the right conditions it releases a molecular fragment with anti-cancer properties.
Laboratory tests demonstrated how the fragment binds to galectin 3 (gal3), a protein that influences all stages of cancer progression.
Interfering with gal3 in this way is expected to curb its ability to spur on cancer.
Professor Vic Morris, who led the study at the Institute of Food Research, said the modified pectin used in jellies and jams was likely to produce the anti-cancer effect.
"The treatments used by the food industry to modify pectin would emphasise the release of the fragment we've identified," he said.
"I expect you would get some protection from jam, but it's packed full of sugar.
"It might be better to get the same protection from fruit and vegetables which would give you other anti-cancer magic bullets as well."
The research by Professor Morris is published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.
Foods such as blueberries and spinach have been linked to a host of health benefits however Professor Morris said it was better to eat a range of fruit and vegetables.
"We hear so much about 'superfoods' like blueberries, but for a combination of different effects it may be better to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
"I am not saying don't eat superfoods, but just make sure you eat others as well."
A spokeswoman for the British Nutrition Foundation said: "It is very hard to know just what the effect of superfoods is as the evidence is not really available.
"But certainly we should not be focussing on these types and ignoring other fruit and vegetables. There are still not enough people getting their five-a-day intake."