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.

Solid-phase extraction of berries’ anthocyanins and evaluation of their antioxidative properties

Denev, P.; Ciz, M.; Ambrozova, G.; Lojek, A.; Yanakieva, I.; Kratchanova, M.
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Solid-phase extraction (SPE) was used to obtain anthocyanin-rich extracts from five berry species: chokeberry, elderberry, black currant, blackberry and blueberry. During SPE more than 94.4% of the sugars and more than 88.5% of the acids present in the crude extracts were separated. The SPE resulted in 90–95.6% anthocyanins recovery. The antioxidative properties of the anthocyanin-rich extracts were tested by measuring their oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC), hydroxyl radical averting capacity (HORAC), total peroxyl radical trapping antioxidant parameter (TRAP), scavenging of nitric oxide and inhibition of lipid peroxidation. Elderberry extract revealed the highest ORAC value of 5783 μmol TE/g. Chokeberry extract was the most potent inhibitor of lipid peroxidation and had the highest TRAP value of 4051 μmol TE/g. Blueberry extract had the highest HORAC result – 1293 μmol GAE/g and was the most powerful scavenger of NO. The high antioxidant activity according to all antioxidant assays revealed opportunities to apply these preparations as antioxidants. All rights reserved, Elsevier.


The stability and antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from blueberry

Bo Chu, Wang; Rui, He; Zhi Min, Li
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Anthocyanins from highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) have tremendous potential as natural colorants and bioactive ingredients of functional foods. To exploit their potential in food applications, the stability and antioxidative activity of anthocyanins present in blueberries were investigated. The anthocyanins were stable against low pH (≤5.0), NaCl (0.125–0.500 mol/l), sucrose (0.584–2.336 mol/l) and preservatives (sodium benzoate, 0.035–0.140 mol/l), but were sensitive to alkaline conditions (≥7.0), high temp. (≥80°C), light (natural light), oxidizing agents (H2O2, 0.5–2.0%) and reducing agents (Na2SO3, 0.005–0.040 mol/l). At concn. of 25 and 50 mg/ml, anthocyanins from blueberries were able to protect ECV-304 cells against oxidative damage induced by H2O2. Results suggest that anthocyanins from blueberries can be regarded as a potential colorants for some acidic (pH ≤5.0) food products and can be used as health foods to reduce risk of diseases arising from oxidative processes.


Effect of processing and storage conditions on phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity of highbush blueberry jams

Scibisz, I.; Mitek, M.
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Decreases in contents of anthocyanins, total phenols and chlorogenic acid, as well as antioxidant capacity, in different highbush blueberry jams were studied during processing and storage. Jams prepared with sucrose (high-sugar and low-sugar jams), sweeteners (light jam) or sweeteners and oligofructose (light jam with oligofructose) were processed with the use of the same parameters. Phenols content and antioxidant capacity were determined directly after production and after 2, 4 and 6 months of storage of the jams. The processing of berries evoked a reduction in antioxidant capacity of 13–19%. Differences in total phenols and anthocyanins contents of all the blueberry jams were significant. The highest content of phenols was reported in the high-sugar jam, and the lowest in the product with oligofructose. HPLC analysis showed changes in blueberry anthocyanins profile during jam processing. Arabinosides were more labile than galactosides and glucosides. In contrast, the stability of individual anthocyanins during storage was very similar. The rate of anthocyanins and antioxidant capacity degradation was influenced, to a substantial extent, by temp. and duration of storage.


Degradation of anthocyanins and anthocyanidins in blueberry jams/stuffed fish

Queiroz, F.; Oliveira, C.; Pinho, O.; Ferreira, I. M. P. L. V. O.
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This study examined the effects of cooking on the degradation of anthocyanins and anthocyanidins in blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum, cv. Bluecrop). Fruits were used to prepare jams with different °Brix and stuffed fish. A systematic evaluation of the degradation of anthocyanins and anthocyanidins of blueberries was performed; for that purpose an HPLC/DAD method was used to determine anthocyanin profiles and anthocyanidin contents in fresh and cooked blueberries and in jams. 10 anthocyanins were separated and monitored in methanolic extracts. Of the 6 common anthocyanidins, 4 were identified in the hydrolysates, namely, delphinidin, cyanidin, petunidin and malvidin. Percentage degradation of anthocyanins and anthocyanidins in jams is highly dependent on °Brix: 64–76 °Brix led to 20–30% degradation, whereas 80°Brix resulted in 50–60% degradation. Percentage degradation of anthocyanins in whole blueberries cooked in stuffed fish ranged between 45 and 50%; however, for anthocyanidins, percentage degradation was significantly lower, between 12 and 30%, indicating that this cooking procedure can prevent anthocyanidin degradation.


A consumer study of fresh juices containing berry fruits

Endrizzi, I.; Pirretti, G.; Calo, D. G.; Gasperi, F.
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Twenty five fresh fruit juices were created by blending 5 types of base juices (pineapple, orange, blood orange, pomegranate or apple juice) with 1 of 5 berry juices (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, redcurrant or blueberry juice) at base/berry juice ratio of 80:20. Resulting juices were evaluated by compositional analysis and in consumer tests (72 consumers aged 14–60 yr) in order to identify juices with optimum health benefits and consumer appeal. Mixed juices were characterized by high concn. of polyphenols and anthocyanins, particularly those based on pomegranate. Consumer preference for tested juices was driven by a strong base juice effect regardless of added berry fruit. Most successful formulations were those containing pineapple or blood orange juice ,which were regarded as achieving a balance between sweet and sour notes; those containing pomegranate juice were least preferred, particularly when mixed with redcurrant juice. Cluster analysis indicated that consumer choice was also influenced by age, education and frequency of juice consumption.


Quality changes of highbush blueberries fruit stored in CA with different CO levels

Duarte, C.; Guerra, M.; Daniel, P.; Camelo, A. L.; Yommi, A.
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Quality changes of blueberries (Vacccinium corymbosum L. cv Brigitta) were evaluated during CA storage (0 degrees C) with different concentrations of CO(2) (5%, 10%, and 15%) combined with 5% O(2), respectively. Atmospheric air (20.9% O(2)+ 0.03% CO(2)) was used as control. From samples taken at 0, 24, and 48 d of storage, unmarketable fruits and weight loss were recorded as well as color (h), firmness (g), soluble solid content (%), titratable acidity (% citric acid), ratio, and the monomeric anthocyanin content (ppm). At each sampling time, additional units were kept for 3 d at 10 degrees C to simulate retail holding conditions. Irrespective of gas concentration, 0.9% of the initial fresh weight was lost after 48 d at 0 degrees C. CA fruit had better quality than control at the 24 d sampling but due to the high number of unmarketable fruits, this advantage was not observed at 48 d at 0 degrees C. After 24 d of storage, fruits for CA treatments were more firm and had better color, with higher anthocyanin and acidity levels. Soluble solid content showed no significant differences throughout the cold storage period. Residual effect of CA storage was observed at the retail holding condition yielding better firmness, acidity, and ratio. However, the CO(2) level tested increased the number of unmarketable fruit in long-term storage (48 d). Response of “Brigitta” blueberries to the different CO(2) levels studied was moderate and could be related to the high storage potential of this cultivar.


Processing and storage effects on blueberry (

Brownmiller, C.; Howard, L.R.; Prior, R.L.
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Effect of high oxygen atmospheres on fruit decay and quality in Chinese bayberries, strawberries and blueberries

Yonghua, Zheng; Zhenfeng, Yang; Xuehong, Chen
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The effects of high oxygen atmospheres on postharvest decay and quality of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra Seib & Zucc. cv. Wumei), strawberry (Fragaria ananassa Duch. cv. Fengxiang) and blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. cv. Duke) fruit were assessed. Freshly harvested Chinese bayberries, strawberries and blueberries were placed in jars continuously ventilated with air or with 40%, 60%, 80% or 100% O2 at 5°C for 9, 14 and 35 days. While the quality parameters of titratable acidity, total soluble solids and surface color measurements were only slightly affected by the superatmospheric O2 concentrations in all the three berries, treatments with 60-100% O2 significantly inhibited fruit decay. The severity of decay decreased with increasing O2 concentration. The 100% O2 treatment was the most effective in controlling fruit decay on all the three berries during storage at 5°C. When the berries were removed from the high oxygen atmospheres and held for an additional 2 days in air at 20°C, fruit treated with 60-100% O2 also exhibited significantly less decay rate, suggesting that high oxygen atmospheres had residual effect on decay control. The 40% O2 treatment was ineffective in controlling fruit decay on all the three berries. These data suggest that high oxygen atmospheres may provide a potential alternative for postharvest decay control on these berry fruit. All rights reserved, Elsevier.


Infusion of fruits with nutraceuticals and health regulatory components for enhanced functionality

Jacob, Jissy K.; Paliyath, Gopinadhan
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Abstract: Enrichment of fruits with nutraceutical components for increased nutritional- and health-beneficial qualities is a major goal for the food processing industries. In the present study, we have investigated the benefits of an osmotic infusion process by means of which a fructo-oligosacharide (Nutraflora™) was used to partially substitute sucrose in the infusion medium. Fruits such as sweet cherry, mango and blueberry could be subjected to osmotic infusion, resulting in improved quality characteristics. During infusion, loss of anthocyanins from blueberry and cherry fruits was observed, but this did not reduce the visual appeal of infused fruits. In conjunction with Nutraflora, fruits could be infused with soy lecithin (phospholipids) and excised mango assimilated significant amounts of phospholipids. Structurally, Nutraflora infused cherry fruits showed preservation of tissue structure similar to that in a fresh fruit. As well, Nutraflora infused fruits showed higher levels of soluble and insoluble solids content. DPPH radical scavenging activity of fresh and infused fruit extracts did not differ significantly suggesting that the antioxidant activity of infused fruits is not impaired by the process. Thus, infusion of fruits with desired components having health benefits can provide nutritionally superior fruit products with improved functionality.


Characteristics of blueberry added makgeolli

Mi-Hyang, Jeon; Won Jong, Lee
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Blueberry makgeolli (rice wine) was made with rice and various quantities of blueberries and the fermentation characteristics of the makgeolli were studied during the fermentation process. pH was the highest (6.6) at the beginning of fermentation and decreased as the ratio of blueberries increased. The pH fell quickly until the 2nd day and then remained constant until the 7th day of fermentation. Total acidity increased significantly until the 4th day of fermentation and then remained constant until the 7th day. Sugar contents (°Brix) and reducing sugar contents reached a max. after 2 days of fermentation and then gradually decreased until the 7th day. Alcohol content of the control (0% blueberries) increased continuously until the 7th day of fermentation when it was at 13.4%. Alcohol content of 20% blueberry makgeolli reached a max. on the 4th day of fermentation and then slowly decreased to 10.2% at the 7th day. Total viable bacterial cell counts and yeast cell counts showed max. values at the 3rd day of fermentation. In sensory evaluation, the colour of the control sample was the most favored by the panelists, whereas the 20% blueberry sample was the least favoured. There were no significant differences in flavour and taste, but overall preference was high for makgeolli with <10% of blueberries.


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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.