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.

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.


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.


In vitro antiviral activity of a series of wild berry fruit extracts against representatives of Picorna-, Orthomyxo- and Paramyxoviridae

Nikolaeva-Glomb, L.; Mukova, L.; Nikolova, N.; Badjakov, I.; Dincheva, I.; Kondakova, V.; Doumanova, L.; Galabov, A. S.
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Wild berry species are known to exhibit a wide range of pharmacological activities. They have long been traditionally applied for their antiseptic, antimicrobial, cardioprotective and antioxidant properties. The aim of the present study is to reveal the potential for selective antiviral activity of total methanol extracts, as well as that of the anthocyanins and the non-anthocyanins from the following wild berries picked in Bulgaria: strawberry (Fragaria vesca L.) and raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) of the Rosaceae plant family, and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillis L.) and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L) of the Ericaceae. The antiviral effect has been tested against viruses that are important human pathogens and for which chemotherapy and/or chemoprophylaxis is indicated, namely poliovirus type 1 (PV-1) and coxsackievirus B1 (CV-B1) from the Picornaviridae virus family, human respiratory syncytial virus A2 (HRSV-A2) from the Paramyxoviridae and influenza virus A/H3N2 of Orthomyxoviridae. Wild berry fruits are freeze-dried and ground, then total methanol extracts are prepared. Further the extracts are fractioned by solid phase extraction and the non-anthocyanin and anthocyanin fractions are eluted. The in vitro antiviral effect is examined by the virus cytopathic effect (CPE) inhibition test. The results reveal that the total extracts of all tested berry fruits inhibit the replication of CV-B1 and influenza A virus. CV-B1 is inhibited to the highest degree by both bilberry and strawberry, as well as by lingonberry total extracts, and influenza A by bilberry and strawberry extracts. Anthocyanin fractions of all wild berries strongly inhibit the replication of influenza virus A/H3N2. Given the obtained results it is concluded that wild berry species are a valuable resource of antiviral substances and the present study should serve as a basis for further detailed research on the matter.


Effects of bilberry on deoxyribonucleic Acid damage and oxidant-antioxidant balance in the lens, induced by ultraviolet radiation

Aly, E. M.; Ali, M. A.
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BACKGROUND: This study investigated the possible protective effects of bilberry extract after exposing rat eyes to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation. METHODS: Four groups of rats were included in this study, each consisting of 10 Wistar rats. The first group acted as the control, and the second group was exposed to UV-B, 5 KJ/m(2) (lambdam = 300 nm), for 15 minutes. The third group was orally administered bilberry extract (160 mg twice per day) for two weeks before exposure to the UV-B, while the fourth group was administered the same dose of bilberry extract for two weeks before euthanisation. A comet assay was used to examine DNA damage, while the malondialdehyde (MDA) level and superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and catalase (CAT), activities were measured in the lens. RESULTS: After exposing the rats to UV-B radiation, the mean percentage tail DNA and tail moment were significantly increased (P < 0.001) when compared to the control group. In the same context, the lens tissue MDA levels and CAT activity were also significantly increased (P < 0.001). The supplementation of the bilberry extract was found to improve the comet assay parameters and enzymatic activity of the rat lens tissue. CONCLUSION: The administration of bilberry led to a decrease in the oxidative stress in the lens tissues and DNA damage induced by UV-B radiation in the lenses of Wistar rats.


Effect of blueberries (BB) on micronuclei induced by N-methyl-N’-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG) and 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) in mammalian cells, assessed in in vitro and in vivo assays

Pepe, G.; Grossi, M. R.; Berni, A.; Filippi, S.; Shanmugakani, R. K.; Papeschi, C.; Mosesso, P.; Natarajan, A. T.; Palitti, F.
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The protective effect of blueberry (BB) on the clastogenic effects of MNNG and DMBA was evaluated with the induced micronucleus (MN) frequency as a biomarker, both in vitro and in vivo. Human hepatoma HepG2 cells, which contain most of the metabolic activating enzymes was used for the in vitro test. MN frequencies were determined in binucleated cells generated by blocking cytokinesis by use of cytochalasin-B. The MN frequency in vivo was determined in polychromatic erythrocytes (PCEs) from the bone marrow of treated mice. BB by itself was not toxic both in vivo and in vitro. There was no evidence of a potential physico-chemical interaction between BB and the test carcinogens in vitro. Pre-treatment with BB reduced the MN frequency induced by MNNG. But, simultaneous treatment and post-treatment with BB did not affect the frequency of MNNG-induced MN. BB did not affect the frequency of DMBA-induced MN in vitro under any test condition. Under in vivo conditions, BB reduced the frequencies of MNNG- and DMBA-induced MN in PCEs, but in the case of the protective effect of BB against DMBA a dramatic reduction in the percentage of PCEs was observed, suggesting increased cytotoxicity.


Properties and stability of blueberry anthocyanin-bovine serum albuminnanoparticles

Chen, J.; Tao, X. Y.; Zhang, M.; Sun, A. D.; Zhao, L. Y.
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BACKGROUND: Since they would be easily decomposed under alkaline conditions, anthocyanins are likely to have poor oxidation stability. However, encapsulated with protein molecules, anthocyanins could be protected due to the slowing down of oxidation process. In this study, the characteristic of nanoparticles, which were formed by the interactions of anthocyanins with bovine serum albumin (BSA), and their impact on the oxidation stability of anthocyanins were investigated. RESULTS: Both BSA and anthocyanin-bound BSA could form self-assembled nanoparticles in phosphate buffer (pH 7.4), and the particle size of anthocyanin-bound BSA (20 to 25 nm) was smaller than that of BSA (35 to 40 nm). The ratio of BSA to anthocyanin was 1:10.The radical scavenging rates of BSA-bound anthocyanin were lower than those of the unbound anthocyanin. No significant difference was seen in the stability between the unbound and BSA-bound anthocyanin in the simulated gastric system, whereas a difference was seen in the simulated intestinal system. The amount of unbound anthocyanin decreased by 70% after 6 h, while BSA-bound anthocyanin was almost not changed. BSA exhibited a remarkable effect on the oxidation stability of anthocyanins. CONCLUSION: BSA nanocarriers could improve the stability of anthocyanin under neutral conditions, which have great potentials for application.


Long-term multimodal therapy (verapamil associated with propolis, blueberry, vitamin E and local diclofenac) on patients with Peyronie’s disease (chronic inflammation of the tunica albuginea). Results of a controlled study

Paulis, G.; Cavallini, G.; Giorgio, G. D.; Quattrocchi, S.; Brancato, T.; Alvaro, R.
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OBJECTIVE: to demonstrate the possible effectiveness of a long-term multimodal medical therapy in patients with Peyronie’s disease (PD) we carried out a controlled study on 82 patients diagnosed with PD, whereas in the scientific literature the conservative treatment of this disease is much discussed. METHODS: 82 patients (mean age=53.6+/-10.1 years-range 23-68) diagnosed with PD were selected for this study. Of these 41 patients (group A) were treated for 18 months as follows: Verapamil penile injections (12 total injections for six months and subsequently every month for twelve months: total 24 injections) + Iontophoresis with Verapamil/daily + blueberries 160mg/daily + propolis 600mg/daily + Vitamin E 600mg/daily + topical Diclofenac/daily. The other 41 patients spontaneously decided not to receive treatment for several motives and then were introduced as a control group B. All patients were controlled at 6- and 18-month follow up with the same diagnostic tests completed before the therapy (penile ultrasound, photograph documentation, pain scale etc.). RESULTS: In group A, after treatment of 6 and 18 months, the change in plaque volume consisted in volume reduction= – 47.6% and -73.6% respectively, while in group B, the change consisted of an increase in plaque volume= +55.7% and +118.7% respectively (p=0.000). In group A, after treatment of 6 and 18 months, improvement of curvature occurred in 76.3% and 81.5% of the cases respectively, while in group B it occurred in 2.7% and 8.1%, respectively (p<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Our results showed that a long-term multimodal medical therapy (Verapamil associated with Antioxidants and local Diclofenac) is statistically effective to treat PD patients, if we consider that lower therapeutic outcomes were achieved after 6 months treatment (medium-term treatment). Furthermore, this study confirms that the best treatment modality for PD is a combination therapy.


Protective effect of bilberry extract as a pretreatment on induced oral mucositis in hamsters

Davarmanesh, M.; Miri, R.; Haghnegahdar, S.; Tadbir, A. A.; Tanideh, N.; Saghiri, M. A.; Garcia-Godoy, F.; Asatourian, A.
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OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the effect of standardized bilberry extract containing anthocyanosides on chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis in hamsters. STUDY DESIGN: Twenty-four hamsters were randomly chosen and assigned to groups. Groups A and B were pretreated with deionized water, whereas group C was pretreated with bilberry extract daily for 7 days. Groups B and C underwent chemotherapy by intraperitoneal injections of 5-fluorouracil (days 4, 9, and 14); group A received normal saline. Potentiation of oral mucositis was achieved by scratching both cheek pouches of all animals with needles (days 5, 6, and 14). The pouches were histopathologically examined on day 17 after visual examination and blood sampling by cardiac puncture. RESULTS: The bilberry extract group showed significantly lower oral mucositis clinical and histopathologic scores (P < .05) and less percentile of mean daily weight reductions compared with animals receiving vehicle. CONCLUSIONS: Frequent administration of bilberry extract had a protective effect on oral mucosal damage induced by 5-fluorouracil in an animal model.


Long-term multimodal therapy (verapamil associated with propolis, blueberry, vitamin E and local diclofenac) on patients with Peyronie’s disease (chronic inflammation of the tunica albuginea). Results of a controlled study

Paulis, G.; Cavallini, G.; Giorgio, G. D.; Quattrocchi, S.; Brancato, T.; Alvaro, R.
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OBJECTIVE: to demonstrate the possible effectiveness of a long-term multimodal medical therapy in patients with Peyronie’s disease (PD) we carried out a controlled study on 82 patients diagnosed with PD, whereas in the scientific literature the conservative treatment of this disease is much discussed. METHODS: 82 patients (mean age=53.6+/-10.1 years-range 23-68) diagnosed with PD were selected for this study. Of these 41 patients (group A) were treated for 18 months as follows: Verapamil penile injections (12 total injections for six months and subsequently every month for twelve months: total 24 injections) + Iontophoresis with Verapamil/daily + blueberries 160mg/daily + propolis 600mg/daily + Vitamin E 600mg/daily + topical Diclofenac/daily. The other 41 patients spontaneously decided not to receive treatment for several motives and then were introduced as a control group B. All patients were controlled at 6- and 18-month follow up with the same diagnostic tests completed before the therapy (penile ultrasound, photograph documentation, pain scale etc.). RESULTS: In group A, after treatment of 6 and 18 months, the change in plaque volume consisted in volume reduction= – 47.6% and -73.6% respectively, while in group B, the change consisted of an increase in plaque volume= +55.7% and +118.7% respectively (p=0.000). In group A, after treatment of 6 and 18 months, improvement of curvature occurred in 76.3% and 81.5% of the cases respectively, while in group B it occurred in 2.7% and 8.1%, respectively (p<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Our results showed that a long-term multimodal medical therapy (Verapamil associated with Antioxidants and local Diclofenac) is statistically effective to treat PD patients, if we consider that lower therapeutic outcomes were achieved after 6 months treatment (medium-term treatment). Furthermore, this study confirms that the best treatment modality for PD is a combination therapy.


Anti-hyperglycemic effect of bilberry, blackberry and mulberry ultrasonic extracts on diabetic rats

Stefanut, M. N.; Cata, A.; Pop, R.; Tanasie, C.; Boc, D.; Ienascu, I.; Ordodi, V.
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Small fruits like bilberry, blackberry and mulberry are rich sources of anthocyanins and other phenols, compounds with a certified antioxidant activity and spectacular effects in some chronic diseases. Romanian bilberry, blackberry and mulberry extracts were tested as anti-hyperglycemic agents on diabetic rats. Anthocyanins extraction was carried out with 80 % acidified ethanol in ultrasonically conditions at 23 +/- 2 degrees C and 40 kHz. Monomeric anthocyanins content was determined by pH differential method and varied between 1200 and 2800 mg/L. The analyses of anthocyanins were achieved using high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Phenolics content was determined by Folin-Ciocalteu procedure and values varied between 2320 and 4250 mg/L gallic acid. Antioxidant activities of extracts were estimated by DPPH scavenging method and the values varied between 8 and 16 miliequivalents Trolox. In order to evaluate the toxicology of the extracts, the heavy metals concentration and pesticides content were analyzed. The extracts were administrated to diabetic rats in drinking water for five weeks. The administration of bilberry extract offered no satisfactory results. Treatment with blackberry extract determined a significant decrease of glucose level from 360 to about 270 mg/dL (p < 0.05). The mulberry extract administration determined a significant decrease of glucose level from 252 mg/dL at the start day to 155 mg/dL at the final of experiment (p < 0.05).


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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.