Researchers from the United States, Europe and Canada gathered in Bar Harbor, Maine, last month, to share information and to continue efforts to understand the benefits of the compounds found in wild blueberries.
The research discussed by 16 leading experts at this year's Wild Blueberry Health Research Summit shed light on the benefits of Wild Blueberry compounds as they relate to eye health, cancer prevention, brain health, diabetes, aging well and cardiovascular health.
“Wild Blueberry health research indicates a wide range of potential human health benefits from this single berry,” says David Bell, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. “Since the first Summit 14 years ago, the breadth and depth of the health research has really accelerated – we keep learning more and more about the benefits of this amazing little berry.”
Among the findings discussed at this year's summit are several focusing on aging, memory and diabetes.
• Dr. Robert Krikorian of the University of Cincinnati reported on two clinical studies at the university's Cognitive Disorders Center investigating the effect of blueberry supplementation on memory and brain function in older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment, a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. These ongoing trials follow a small, prior study that demonstrated improved cognitive function in subjects who consumed Wild Blueberry juice.
• Barbara Shukitt-Hale from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging has demonstrated improvement in memory tasks and motor function in blueberry-fed animals, as well as the growth of new brain cells, decrease in inflammation and other markers of brain health.
• Catherine Champagne, professor of Nutritional Epidemiology/Dietary Assessment at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., discussed the positive effect of blueberry diet on insulin sensitivity and a proposed clinical study that will measure the effect of blueberries on blood pressure, blood vessel wall function and other metabolic markers in a population with metabolic syndrome that is at high-risk for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers have long known that wild blueberries are among the leaders in healthy foods high in antioxidants. Wild blueberries also score higher than other fruits, including cultivated blueberries, in a number of critical health-related areas. Wild blueberries rate higher in total phenolics, in anthocyanins, and in flavonoids.
Each of these topics generates significant research on its own, and scientists are finding that wild blueberries are unique because they contain high amounts of so many of these compounds in one package.
“We’ve always known that fruits and berries, such as wild blueberries, are good for you, and now the science is mounting to prove it,” says Susan Davis, a registered dietician and nutrition advisor for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, a trade association of growers and processors. “The great news for consumers is how easy it is for them to take advantage of all of these wide-ranging studies by making frozen wild blueberries part of their healthy diets.”
Source: The Gourmet Retailer