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.

Factors influencing color degradation in blueberry juice

Simard, R.E.; Bourzeix, M.; Heredia, N.
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Addition of 0.4-1.2 g/l tannin or 2-10 mg/l Cu-2-+ (cupric) ions to lowbush blueberry juice (Vaccinium angustifolium) (pH varying from 2.0 to 4.0), influenced the rate of loss of anthocyanin monomers. When juices were stored in darkness at 20 degree C for a 10-wk period, both compounds exerted a protective action only on juices with pH greater than 3.0 whereas increasing anthocyanin monomer losses were obtained in juices with pH less than 3.0. Differences between the effects of various tannin or Cu-2-+ ion concn. on monomer losses were not always significant according to covariance analysis. The rate of anthocyanin monomer losses in natural pH juices stored from 4 degree to 37 degree C increased with temp., whereas the majority of anthocyanins were degraded after 4 wk in juices stored at 27 degree and 37 degree C. Also, juices stored under fluorescent or northern window light lost their pigments in a similar manner. The various storage conditions studied predicted half-life values in weeks for lowbush blueberry juices; temp. and pH appeared to be critical factors.


Enhancement of powdered soft drink mixes with anthocyanin extracts

Shewfelt, R.L.; Ahmed, E.M.
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Anthocyanin extracts derived from blueberries and red cabbages using 2 extraction methods, an SO2 extraction procedure and a methanol extraction/ion exchange purification procedure, were compared as colorants in powdered soft drink mixes. Total anthocyanins, total flavonols and ascorbic acid retention did not change significantly during 6 wk of storage of the dry mixes at 21 degree or 35 degree C. However, loss of anthocyanins was observed in the reconstituted beverages containing purified methanol extracts during 9 days of storage at 4 degree C. Degradation of ascorbic acid in the reconstituted beverages containing ion exchange-purified extracts and the commercial control proceeded at a rapid rate reaching 95% decrease after 9 days’ storage at 4 degree C. SO2-extracted powders exerted a protective effect on ascorbic acid retention during the same period of reconstituted storage. Sensory colour evaluation of the products indicated that beverages containing methanol-derived blueberry extracts were preferred to commercial cherry controls.


Effect of certain chemical agents on resistance of anthocyanin pigments in fruit juices to gamma-irridation

Wilska Jeszka, J
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0.1% sorbic acid was added to juices obtained from frozen blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum L.), redcurrants (Ribes rubrum L.), blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.), and elderberries (Sambuccus nigra L.), the juices were boiled for 3 min, bottled hot in sterile bottles and stored at 2 degree C. Juice colours remained stable for 4 months and losses of anthocyanins in these juices on gamma-irradiation were the same as in raw juices. The boiled juices were exposed to 200-800 krad irradiation from a -6-0Co source. The initial anthocyanin contents determined by the method of Sondheimer & Kertesz [Analyt. Chem. (1948) 20: 245] were 32, 7, 120 and 80 mg/100 ml respectively. Losses increased progressively with increase in radiation dose, and for 200 and 400 krad there was a straight line relationship between amount of anthocyanin remaining after treatment and log initial concn. Thiorea, thiamine, methionine, hydroquinone, I2, 2,6-dichlorophenol-indophenol, phloroglucinol, rutin, naringin, tannin, CuSO4, FeCl3 or ammonium ferrous sulphate were added at 10—4-10—2M to redcurrant, blackcurrant and blueberry juices (the last 2 diluted to an anthocyanin concn. less than 50 mg/100 ml) before irradiation at 200-400 krad. Thiourea, hydroquinone, tannin, and particularly CuSO4 had a protective effect on anthocyanins, but only at concn. above the tolerance limit for foodstuffs.


The effect of certain prefreezing treatments on the quality of eight varieties of cultivated highbush blueberries

Greenwood, M. L.; Potgieter, M.
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The effect of long-term frozen storage on the nutraceutical compounds, antioxidant properties and color indices of different kinds of berries

Poiana, Mariana-Atena; Alda, Liana-Maria; Popa, Mirela; Moigradean, Diana; Raba, Diana
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The effects of the Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) process and frozen storage at -18℗’C up to 10 months, on the nutraceutical compounds, antioxidant properties and color indices of various berries (blueberry, red raspberry and blackberry) have been evaluated. Samples were extracted and analyzed for their total phenolics content, total monomeric anthocyanins, vitamin C, antioxidant activity and color indices. Total anthocyanins and color indices were evaluated by using pH-differential method, total phenolics content was measured using Folin-Ciocalteu procedure, vitamin C content using 2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol method and antioxidant activity using ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assay. Blueberry contains the highest amounts of polyphenols, anthocyanins and antioxidant activity among the berries studied. The highest content of vitamin C was found in fresh raspberry. After freezing, no significant difference was observed for investigated nutraceuticals and color of berries, because the IQF is a rapid and non-destroying preservation method. Results showed that the frozen storage up to 4 months did not significantly affect the bioactive compounds and color indices of berries. The degradation of these characteristics was not recorded more than 23% during six months of storage. After 10 months, the content of polyphenols decreased up to 28-47% of the initial value; the total anthocyanins was found in proportion of 80-91%, and the ascorbic acid content was kept at 62-76%. After 10 months of storage the smallest loss of antioxidant activity was recorded for blueberries (approximately 23%) and the biggest loss for raspberries (approximately 37%). The results showed a positive correlation between antioxidant capacity and polyphenols, vitamin C and anthocyanins content. The correlation coefficient between FRAP and the total phenolics was higher than the correlation coefficient between FRAP and total anthocyanins or FRAP and vitamin C for all investigated berries.


Evaluation of selected food supplements containing antioxidants

Lastawska, K.
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Seven commercial food supplements present on the Polish market were evaluated for their in vitro antioxidant capacity. The selected products were in the form of hard gelatin capsules. They contained the extracts from chokeberry, cranberry, blueberry and green tea. The mixture of vitamins and minerals as well as the product containing vitamin C in substantial dose were included into comparison. The products were examined using three methods in order to evaluate their antioxidant capacity: electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), oxygen radical absorbing antioxidant capacity (ORAC) assays. Total polyphenolic content was determined according to Folin-Ciocalteu method The results were calculated per capsule. All studied preparations showed antioxidant properties and may provide substantial antioxidant protection. The in vitro antioxidant capacity varied considerably and was associated with the content of polyphenols in the capsule. The supplement with 250 mg of green tea extract was the most potent antioxidant in all assays. Nevertheless it must be remembered that the amounts of extracts were different in encapsulated products. As the quality of extracts and their properties are miscellaneous, there is a need to standardize dietary antioxidant supplements with respect to their antioxidant capacity if effective doses are to be recommended.


Extraction of antioxidants from several berries pressing wastes using conventional and supercritical solvents [electronic resource]

Laroze, Liza E.; Z©ð©łiga, Mar©Ưa Elvira; Dom©Ưnguez, Herminia; D©Ưaz-Reinoso, Beatriz; Moure, Andr©♭s
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The solid waste generated in industrial berry juice production was considered as a low cost raw material for the extraction of natural antioxidants. Berries contain phenolic compounds with high antioxidant potential, including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols, catechins, benzoic and cinnamic acids. The solid residues generated from blueberry, cranberry and raspberry after pressing were extracted by conventional solvent extraction or by supercritical CO₂ (SC-CO₂) extraction. The effect of particle size and extraction time on the extraction yield, phenolic yield and phenolic content of the extracts produced by conventional solvents was assessed. Supercritical CO₂ extraction was performed during 2 h operating in the range 80-300 bar at 60 ℗’C using 2.5 L CO₂/h. Maximum solubles yield of 5.20% were extracted from raspberry wastes at 200 bar, 3.89% from cranberry wastes at 250 bar and 1.4% from blueberry wastes at 200 bar. The highest phenolic content of the extracts was observed for blueberry pomace in the trap, with 9 grams of gallic acid equivalents per 100 g of extract. The ABTS (2, 2â€ø-azino-bis-[3-ethylbenzotiazol-6-sulfonic acid]) and DPPH (Îł,Îł-diphenyl-Îø-picrylhydrazyl) radical scavenging capacity of the SC-CO₂ extracts was moderate in comparison with the activity of conventional solvent extracts.


Effect of heating on the stability of grape and blueberry pomace procyanidins and total anthocyanins

Khanal, R. C.; Howard, L. R.; Prior, R. L.
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Fruit by-products are rich sources of procyanidins and anthocyanins known for potential health benefits. Freeze dried blueberry pomace and grape pomace were heated in a forced air oven at 40, 60, 105, and 125°C for 72, 48, 16, and 8 h respectively, to study the stability of procyanidins and total anthocyanins. Heating decreased procyanidin concentrations significantly (p < 0.05) in both blueberry and grape pomace, except when heated at 40°C for 72 h. Reduction occurred when heated at 60°C or above with no further reduction when heating temperature increased from 105 to 125°C. Heating also affected total anthocyanin contents in both grape and blueberry pomace with no significant (p > 0.05) loss when heated at 40°C. Total anthocyanin loss was highest at 125°C for both blueberry (52%) and grape pomace (70%). Results suggested that while heating at lower temperatures for up to 3 days may not be detrimental, heating at higher temperatures for more than 8 h results in considerable loss of both the compounds. All rights reserved, Elsevier.


Identification of a haze deposit from a blueberry sparkling wine

Will, F.; Zacharias, J.; Dietrich, H.
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Haze formation was observed in a commercial sample of sparkling blueberry wine (5.5% alcohol by vol.); the haze formed a compact brown granular deposit on the bottom of the bottles. Analysis using FTIR spectroscopy, RP-HPLC/PDA and ESI-LC MS showed that the deposit was quercetin, a natural constituent of blueberries. The low solubilty of quercetin in aqueous media presents a hazard of haze formation in quercetin-containing products; it may be possible to minimize this haze hazard by fining.


Effects of food processing on blueberry antiproliferation and antioxidant activity

Schmidt, B. M.; Erdman, J. W., Jr.; Lila, M. A.
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Cultivated highbush and wild lowbush blueberries are excellent sources of phytochemicals which are believed to have significant biological activity. The extent to which processed blueberry products retain levels of phenols, antioxidative activity and antiproliferation activity found in whole, unprocessed blueberries was determined. Several blueberry fruit-containing products including fresh, individually quick-frozen (IQF), freeze-dried, spray-dried, heat-dried, cooked, juice concentrates, pie fillings and jams were fractionated to remove sugars and isolate groups of phytochemicals based on solubility. Fractions were analysed for total phenols and assayed for ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) antioxidative activity, 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity and hepa-1c1c7 antiproliferative activities. For both cultivated and wild blueberries, fresh and IQF berries had the highest total phenols, antioxidative activity and antiproliferation activity. Whole freeze-dried wild blueberries also retained significant antiproliferative activity in 2 fractions eluted with acetone (fraction 4; 4% of control cell growth at 20 μg/ml) and 50% aqueous acetone (fraction 5; 69% of control cell growth at 20 μg/ml) and ranked close to the activities recorded for fresh (30% of control cell growth at 20 μg/ml for fraction 5) and IQF whole fruits (27% of control cell growth at 20 μg/ml for fraction 5). Products that were heat treated retained most of their antioxidative activity and total phenols found in unprocessed whole fruits. However, heat treated products lacked or had diminished antiproliferation activity, suggesting that although products may be high in phenols and antioxidative activity some forms of bioactivity may be compromised by harsh processing methods.


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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.