Over 20 Years of Health Research

Since 1997, the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) has been collaborating with elite scientists to help study the health benefits of wild blueberries. WBANA is dedicated to furthering research that explores the health potential of wild blueberries and annually funds research studies that help advance the understanding of the nutritional and human health benefits of wild blueberries.

Each year, WBANA has hosts the Wild Blueberry Health Research Summit in Bar Harbor, Maine, a worldwide gathering of renowned scientists and researchers from leading institutions representing broad disciplines — from cardiovascular health to cancer to heart disease, osteoporosis, neurological diseases of aging, and more. Their work is leading the way to learn more about the health benefits of wild blueberries, and their findings, which use rigorous methodology, are documented in a growing number of published studies on the potential health and disease-fighting benefits of wild blueberries. All published research studies are written by and submitted to peer-reviewed journals by the researcher, independent of WBANA.

Below are scientific research papers that provide more detail into the role wild blueberries may play in promoting human health.

A novel cobiotic containing a prebiotic and an antioxidant augments the glucose control and gastrointestinal tolerability of metformin: a case report

Greenway, F.; Wang, S.; Heiman, M.
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The gut microbiome plays an important role in regulation of metabolic processes, including digestion, absorption, and synthesis of bioactive molecules that signal physiological host mechanisms. Changes in the human gut microbiome are associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Water-soluble dietary fibres like inulin and beta-glucan are fermented in the colon, and beta-glucan increases viscosity. Blueberries improve insulin sensitivity through an antioxidant effect. A cobiotic, consisting of purified inulin, sugar-free blueberry pomace extract, and an oat preparation of purified beta-glucan was developed for twice a day (bid) consumption as a smoothie drink to repair the gastrointestinal dysbiosis in type 2 diabetes. A 30-year-old man presented with new onset type 2 diabetes and a fasting glucose (FBS) of 375 mg/dl. Metformin 500 mg bid was initiated and increased to 1 g bid after 1 week. During the first 9 days of metformin treatment, he developed diarrhoea, but his FBS only dropped to 325 mg/dl. The cobiotic bid was added on the 9th day of metformin treatment, and after 2 days, his FBS dropped to 175 mg/dl. After 8 weeks on metformin and the cobiotic, his blood sugar was 100 mg/dl and he lost 5.5 kg. His stools became soft and formed on the cobiotic, reverted to diarrhoea when off of it for 2 days, and returned to normal on resuming the cobiotic formulation. Metformin is a safe, effective and inexpensive generic medication favouring weight loss, recommended as initial treatment of type 2 diabetes by the American Diabetes Association. However, a 20% incidence of diarrhoea limits its tolerability. A safe food supplement that can increase the efficacy of metformin and its tolerability, as occurred in this case report, would have significant positive public health consequences. A controlled clinical trial of the cobiotic with metformin is planned.


A novel cobiotic containing a prebiotic and an antioxidant augments the glucose control and gastrointestinal tolerability of metformin: a case report

Greenway, F.; Wang, S.; Heiman, M.
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Show Details

The gut microbiome plays an important role in regulation of metabolic processes, including digestion, absorption, and synthesis of bioactive molecules that signal physiological host mechanisms. Changes in the human gut microbiome are associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Water-soluble dietary fibres like inulin and beta-glucan are fermented in the colon, and beta-glucan increases viscosity. Blueberries improve insulin sensitivity through an antioxidant effect. A cobiotic, consisting of purified inulin, sugar-free blueberry pomace extract, and an oat preparation of purified beta-glucan was developed for twice a day (bid) consumption as a smoothie drink to repair the gastrointestinal dysbiosis in type 2 diabetes. A 30-year-old man presented with new onset type 2 diabetes and a fasting glucose (FBS) of 375 mg/dl. Metformin 500 mg bid was initiated and increased to 1 g bid after 1 week. During the first 9 days of metformin treatment, he developed diarrhoea, but his FBS only dropped to 325 mg/dl. The cobiotic bid was added on the 9th day of metformin treatment, and after 2 days, his FBS dropped to 175 mg/dl. After 8 weeks on metformin and the cobiotic, his blood sugar was 100 mg/dl and he lost 5.5 kg. His stools became soft and formed on the cobiotic, reverted to diarrhoea when off of it for 2 days, and returned to normal on resuming the cobiotic formulation. Metformin is a safe, effective and inexpensive generic medication favouring weight loss, recommended as initial treatment of type 2 diabetes by the American Diabetes Association. However, a 20% incidence of diarrhoea limits its tolerability. A safe food supplement that can increase the efficacy of metformin and its tolerability, as occurred in this case report, would have significant positive public health consequences. A controlled clinical trial of the cobiotic with metformin is planned.


The effective use of acai juice, blueberry juice and pineapple juice as negative contrast agents for magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography in children

Bittman, M. E.; Callahan, M. J.
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Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is commonly performed in the evaluation of known or suspected pancreaticobiliary disease in children. The administration of a negative oral contrast agent can improve the quality of the examination without significant additional cost. We describe our experience with certain brands of acai juice, blueberry juice and pineapple juice as negative oral contrast agents in children. We believe these fruit juices are safe, palatable and may improve MRCP image quality.


The effective use of acai juice, blueberry juice and pineapple juice as negative contrast agents for magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography in children

Bittman, M. E.; Callahan, M. J.
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Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is commonly performed in the evaluation of known or suspected pancreaticobiliary disease in children. The administration of a negative oral contrast agent can improve the quality of the examination without significant additional cost. We describe our experience with certain brands of acai juice, blueberry juice and pineapple juice as negative oral contrast agents in children. We believe these fruit juices are safe, palatable and may improve MRCP image quality.


The effective use of acai juice, blueberry juice and pineapple juice as negative contrast agents for magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography in children

Bittman, M. E.; Callahan, M. J.
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Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is commonly performed in the evaluation of known or suspected pancreaticobiliary disease in children. The administration of a negative oral contrast agent can improve the quality of the examination without significant additional cost. We describe our experience with certain brands of acai juice, blueberry juice and pineapple juice as negative oral contrast agents in children. We believe these fruit juices are safe, palatable and may improve MRCP image quality.


Metabolite profiling of polyphenols in Vaccinium berries and determination of their chemopreventive properties

Prencipe, F. P.; Bruni, R.; Guerrini, A.; Rossi, D.; Benvenuti, S.; Pellati, F.
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A detailed investigation on the chemical composition and chemopreventive activity of Vaccinium floribundum Kunth berries was carried out in comparison with Vaccinium myrtillus L. Berry polyphenols were extracted by using two sequential dynamic maceration steps, which enabled to maximize the yields of secondary metabolites. In particular, phenolic acids and flavonols were extracted from berries using ethyl acetate (EtOAc), whereas anthocyanins were extracted from the residue with 0.6M HCl in methanol (MeOH). The analysis of secondary metabolites in berry extracts was performed by means of two specific HPLC methods. Phenolic acids and flavonols were analyzed on an Ascentis C18 column (250mmx4.6mm I.D., 5mum), with a gradient mobile phase composed of 0.1M HCOOH in H2O and ACN. Anthocyanin analysis was carried out on a Zorbax SB-C18 column (150mmx4.6mm I.D., 5mum), with a gradient mobile phase composed of H2O-HCOOH (9:1, v/v) and MeOH-H2O-HCOOH (5:4:1, v/v/v). Detection was performed by UV/DAD, MS and MS(2). The polyphenol composition of V. floribundum and V. myrtillus was studied in detail. The samples of V. floribundum analyzed in this study had a much higher content of both phenolic acids and flavonols in comparison with V. myrtillus (mean value 41.6+/-10.2 and 13.7+/-0.2mg/100g FW, respectively), while V. myrtillus showed a higher amount of anthocyanins if compared with V. floribundum (568.8+/-8.8 and mean value 376.2+/-49.9mg/100gFW, respectively). The extracts gave negative results in antimutagenic assays against carcinogens 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (MeIQ) and 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4-NQO), while they performed similarly in both ABTS(+) and DPPH antioxidant assays.


The matrix effect of blueberry, oat meal and milk on polyphenols, antioxidant activity and potential bioavailability

Cebeci, F.; Sahin-Yesilcubuk, N.
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In recent years, ready-to eat breakfast cereals prepared with fruit ingredients have gained particular attention due to their polyphenolic contents and health promoting effects. In this study, the matrix effect of blueberry, oat meal, whole milk or skimmed milk on polyphenols, antioxidative potential as well as their potential bioavailability were investigated. The phenolic properties of whole milk, skimmed milk, blueberry and oat meal were investigated and the changes in combinations of the ingredients were determined. Milk addition decreased the total phenolic, flavonoid and anthocyanin content of samples statistically and had negative effect on antioxidant activity showing differences among different methods. According to HPLC results, it was not possible to detect catechin in mixtures due to milk addition. In vitro digestion method was used to determine potential bioavailability of phenolic compounds. According to in vitro digestion procedure results, whole or skimmed milk did not affect the total phenolic content of the proportion passing to the blood from intestine.


Wild blueberry consumption affects aortic vascular function in the obese Zucker rat

Vendrame, S.; Kristo, A. S.; Schuschke, D. A.; Klimis-Zacas, D.
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This study evaluates the effect of wild blueberry (WB) consumption on the biomechanical properties of the aorta in the obese Zucker rat (OZR), a model of the metabolic syndrome. Thirty-six OZRs and 36 lean controls (lean Zucker rats) were placed either on a WB-enriched or a control (C) diet for 8 weeks. Phenylephrine (Phe)-mediated vasoconstriction and acetylcholine (Ach)-mediated vasorelaxation in the aortic vessel were investigated, as well as the contribution of the nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase (COX) pathways in each of the above responses by using specific inhibitors. Obese Zucker rats exhibited a reduced vasocontstrictor response to Phe and an exaggerated vasorelaxant response to Ach. The WB diet partially restored Phe-induced constrictor responses and attenuated Ach-induced relaxant responses in OZR. Plasma nitric oxide was significantly attenuated (22.1 +/- 1.1 mumol.L(-1), WB vs 25.6 +/- 1.4 mumol.L(-1), C, p


Wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)-enriched diet improves dyslipidaemia and modulates the expression of genes related to lipid metabolism in obese Zucker rats

Vendrame, S.; Daugherty, A.; Kristo, A. S.; Klimis-Zacas, D.
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The present study investigated the potential of a wild blueberry (WB)-enriched diet to improve blood lipid profile and modulate the expression of genes related to lipid homeostasis in obese Zucker rats (OZR), a model of the metabolic syndrome with severe dyslipidaemia. For this purpose, twenty OZR and twenty lean Zucker rats (LZR; controls) were placed either on a control (C) or an 8 % WB diet for 8 weeks. Plasma total cholesterol (TC), HDL-cholesterol and TAG concentrations were determined. The relative expression of six genes involved in lipid metabolism was also determined in both the liver and the abdominal adipose tissue (AAT). Plasma TAG and TC concentrations were significantly lower in the OZR following WB consumption (4228 (sem 471) and 2287 (sem 125) mg/l, respectively) than in those on the C diet (5475 (sem 315) and 2631 (sem 129) mg/l, P< 0.05), while there was no change in HDL-cholesterol concentration. No significant effects were observed for plasma lipids in the LZR. Following WB consumption, the expression of the transcription factors PPARalpha and PPARgamma in the OZR was increased in the AAT, while that of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP-1) was decreased in the liver and AAT. The expression of fatty acid synthase was significantly decreased in both the liver and AAT and that of ATP-binding cassette transporter 1 was increased in the AAT following WB consumption. In conclusion, WB consumption appears to improve lipid profiles and modulate the expression of key enzymes and transcription factors of lipid metabolism in severely dyslipidaemic rats.


Anthocyanin Metabolites Are Abundant and Persistent in Human Urine

Kalt, W.; Liu, Y.; McDonald, J. E.; Vinqvist-Tymchuk, M. R.; Fillmore, S. A.
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LC-MS/MS revealed that metabolites of anthocyanins (Acn) were abundant in human urine (n = 17) even after 5 days with no dietary Acn. After intake of 250 mL of blueberry juice, parent Acn were 4% and Acn metabolites were 96% of the total urinary Acn for the following 24 h. Multiple reaction monitoring revealed 226 combinations of mass transition x retention times for known Acn and predicted Acn metabolites. These were dominated by aglycones, especially aglycone glucuronides. The diversity of Acn metabolites could include positional isomers of Acn conjugates and chalcones. The persistence of Acn metabolites suggested enterohepatic recycling leading to prolonged residence time. The prevalence of Acn metabolites based on pelargonidin, which is not present in blueberry juice, may reflect ongoing dehydroxylation and demethylation of other Acn via xenobiotic and colonic bacterial action. The results suggest that exposure to Acn-based flavonoid moieties is substantially greater than suggested by earlier research.


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Looking for more health research?

Contact KIT BROIHIER, resident nutrition adviser to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America

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Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD is the Nutrition advisor and spokesperson for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is the owner of NutriComm Inc., a food and nutrition communications consulting company.

Ms. Broihier received a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University.