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.

Protective role of bilberry extract against Cisplatin induced ototoxicity in rats

Kapusuz, Z.; Ozkiris, M.; Kala, M.; Saydam, L.
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To investigate the potential preventive effect of bilberry extract in cisplatin-induced ototoxicity. Thirty-five 3-3.5-month healthy adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups and treated as follows: Both, group 1 (n = 10) and group 2 (n = 15) subjects received a single dose of 12 mg/kg cisplatin intraperitoneally; while in group 2, bilberry extract was also administered via gavage feeding for 15 days. Group 3 (n = 10), received no cisplatin or bilberry extract. Baseline distortion product otoacoustic emissions testing were performed in all subjects prior to administration of any medication. The test was repeated at 15th day following administration of any medication. The distortion product otoacoustic emissions were evaluated at 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 kHz. Histopathological changes in the cochlea of rats were observed by light microscopy. There was no statistically significant difference in apical turn between three groups but there was a statistically significant difference in basal and mid turn external ciliated cells number. Stria vascularis changes were statistically significant between three groups. The median score for stria vascularis injury and spiral ganglion cells changes were significantly greater in group 1 than in group 2. The initial distortion product otoacoustic emissions measurement results gave similar statistically insignificant values in the three groups (p > 0.05). In contrast to initial measurements statistically significant differences were recorded between day 0 and 15 otoacoustic thresholds (p < 0.05). Bilberry extract group had a significantly higher DP-gram except for 1.5 and 2 kHz frequencies when compared to cisplatin group. The analyses of the results revealed statistically significant differences between two groups (p < 0.05), suggesting that bilberry extract had shown a protective effect against cisplatin ototoxicity. The results of our study revealed that treatment with bilberry extract affords significant protection to the cochlea from cisplatin toxicity and thus, oral experimental dose of bilberry extract administration may have a protective effect against cisplatin ototoxicity in rats.


Chemopreventive and therapeutic activity of dietary blueberry against estrogen-mediated breast cancer

Jeyabalan, J.; Aqil, F.; Munagala, R.; Annamalai, L.; Vadhanam, M. V.; Gupta, R. C.
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Berries are gaining increasing importance lately for their chemopreventive and therapeutic potential against several cancers. In our earlier studies, blueberry-supplemented diet has shown protection against 17beta-estradiol-mediated mammary tumorigenesis. Here, we tested both preventive and therapeutic activities of diet supplemented with whole blueberry powder (50:50 blend of tifblue and rubel). Animals received 5% blueberry diet, either 2 weeks prior to or 12 weeks after 17beta-estradiol (E2) treatment in preventive and therapeutic groups, respectively. Both the interventions delayed the tumor latency for palpable mammary tumors by 28 and 37 days, respectively. Tumor volume and multiplicity were also reduced significantly in both modes. The effect on mammary tumorigenesis was largely due to down regulation of CYP 1A1 and ER-alpha genes expression and also favorable modulation of microRNA (mir-18a and mir-34c) levels. These data suggest that the blueberry blend tested is effective in inhibiting E2-mediated mammary tumorigenesis in both preventive and therapeutic modes.


Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity

Rodriguez-Mateos, A.; Rendeiro, C.; Bergillos-Meca, T.; Tabatabaee, S.; George, T. W.; Heiss, C.; Spencer, J. P.
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BACKGROUND: There are very limited data regarding the effects of blueberry flavonoid intake on vascular function in healthy humans. OBJECTIVES: We investigated the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on endothelial function in healthy men and assessed potential mechanisms of action by the assessment of circulating metabolites and neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity. DESIGN: Two randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover human-intervention trials were conducted with 21 healthy men. Initially, the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and polyphenol absorption and metabolism was assessed at baseline and 1, 2, 4, and 6 h after consumption of blueberry containing 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols or a macronutrient- and micronutrient-matched control drink (0 mg total blueberry polyphenols). Second, an intake-dependence study was conducted (from baseline to 1 h) with 319, 637, 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols and a control. RESULTS: We observed a biphasic time-dependent increase in FMD, with significant increases at 1-2 and 6 h after consumption of blueberry polyphenols. No significant intake-dependence was observed between 766 and 1791 mg. However, at 1 h after consumption, FMD increased dose dependently to


Effects of exercise with or without blueberries in the diet on cardio-metabolic risk factors: an exploratory pilot study in healthy subjects

Nyberg, S.; Gerring, E.; Gjellan, S.; Vergara, M.; Lindstrom, T.; Nystrom, F. H.
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BACKGROUND: The improvement of insulin sensitivity by exercise has been shown to be inhibited by supplementation of vitamins acting as antioxidants. OBJECTIVE: To examine effects of exercise with or without blueberries, containing natural antioxidants, on cardio-metabolic risk factors. METHODS: Fifteen healthy men and 17 women, 27.6 +/- 6.5 years old, were recruited, and 26 completed a randomized cross-over trial with 4 weeks of exercise by running/jogging 5 km five times/week and 4 weeks of minimal physical activity. Participants were also randomized to consume 150 g of blueberries, or not, on exercise days. Laboratory variables were measured before and after a 5 km running-race at maximal speed at the beginning and end of each period, i.e. there were four maximal running-races and eight samplings in total for each participant. RESULTS: Insulin and triglyceride levels were reduced while HDL-cholesterol increased by exercise compared with minimal physical activity. Participants randomized to consume blueberries showed an increase in fasting glucose levels compared with controls, during the exercise period (blueberries: from 5.12 +/- 0.49 mmol/l to 5.32 +/- 0.29 mmol/l; controls: from 5.24 +/- 0.27 mmol/l to 5.17 +/- 0.23 mmol/l, P = 0.04 for difference in change). Triglyceride levels fell in the control group (from 1.1 +/- 0.49 mmol/l to 0.93 +/- 0.31 mmol/l, P = 0.02), while HDL-cholesterol increased in the blueberry group (from 1.51 +/- 0.29 mmol/l to 1.64 +/- 0.33 mmol/l, P = 0.006). CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion of blueberries induced differential effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors, including increased levels of both fasting glucose and HDL-cholesterol. However, since it is possible that indirect effects on food intake were induced, other than consumption of blueberries, further studies are needed to confirm the findings.


Phytochemicals in lowbush wild blueberry inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7 by damaging its cell membrane

Lacombe, A.; Tadepalli, S.; Hwang, C. A.; Wu, V. C.
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The antimicrobial activity and model of action of polyphenolic compounds extracted from lowbush wild blueberries (LWB) were studied against Escherichia coli O157:H7. Polyphenols in LWB were extracted using 80% vol/vol methanol and designated as total blueberry phenolics (TBP). The fraction was further separated by a C-18 Sep-Pak cartridge into monomeric phenolics acids (MPA) and anthocyanins plus proanthocyanidins (A&P). The A&P fraction was further separated into anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins using a LH-20 Sephadex column. Each fraction was diluted in 0.85% wt/vol NaCl, inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 to achieve 8 log colony-forming units (CFU)/mL, and incubated at 25 degrees C for 1 h. The survival populations of E. coli O157:H7 in the phenolic fractions were determined by a viable cell counts method. The permeability of the cell membrane of E. coli O157:H7 was determined using LIVE/DEAD viability assay, and the damage was visualized by using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Significant (p<0.05) reductions of 5 log CFU/mL of E. coli O157:H7 were observed for MPA at 0.4 g/L gallic acid equivalents (GAE), A&P at 0.9 g/L GAE, and anthocyanins at 0.65 g/L GAE. Reductions of 6-7 CFU/mL were observed for MPA at 0.8 g/L GAE, A&P at 1.8 g/L GAE, and anthocyanins at 1.3 g/L GAE compared to the control. The cell membrane of E. coli O157:H7 exhibited a significantly increased permeability when treated with proanthocyanidins (0.15 g/L GAE), A&P (0.45 g/L GAE), anthocyanins (0.65 g/L GAE), and TBP (0.14 g/L GAE). TEM confirmed the inactivation and increased membrane permeability of E. coli O157:H7. This study demonstrated the antimicrobial effect of polyphenols from LWB against E. coli O157:H7 and the probable mode of action.


Anthocyanin determination in blueberry extracts from various cultivars and their antiproliferative and apoptotic properties in B16-F10 metastatic murine melanoma cells

Bunea, A.; Rugina, D.; Sconta, Z.; Pop, R. M.; Pintea, A.; Socaciu, C.; Tabaran, F.; Grootaert, C.; Struijs, K.; VanCamp, J.
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Blueberry consumption is associated with health benefits contributing to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the anthocyanin profile of blueberry extracts and to evaluate their effects on B16-F10 metastatic melanoma murine cells. Seven blueberry cultivars cultivated in Romania were used. The blueberry extracts were purified over an Amberlite XAD-7 resin and a Sephadex LH-20 column, in order to obtain the anthocyanin rich fractions (ARF). The antioxidant activity of the ARF of all cultivars was evaluated by ABTS, CUPRAC and ORAC assays. High performance liquid chromatography followed by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS) was used to identify and quantify individual anthocyanins. The anthocyanin content of tested cultivars ranged from 101.88 to 195.01 mg malvidin-3-glucoside/100g fresh weight. The anthocyanin rich-fraction obtained from cultivar Torro (ARF-T) was shown to have the highest anthocyanin content and antioxidant activity, and inhibited B16-F10 melanoma murine cells proliferation at concentrations higher than 500 mug/ml. In addition, ARF-T stimulated apoptosis and increased total LDH activity in metastatic B16-F10 melanoma murine cells. These results indicate that the anthocyanins from blueberry cultivar could be used as a chemopreventive or adjuvant treatment for metastasis control.


Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity

Rodriguez-Mateos, A.; Rendeiro, C.; Bergillos-Meca, T.; Tabatabaee, S.; George, T. W.; Heiss, C.; Spencer, J. P.
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BACKGROUND: There are very limited data regarding the effects of blueberry flavonoid intake on vascular function in healthy humans. OBJECTIVES: We investigated the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on endothelial function in healthy men and assessed potential mechanisms of action by the assessment of circulating metabolites and neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity. DESIGN: Two randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover human-intervention trials were conducted with 21 healthy men. Initially, the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and polyphenol absorption and metabolism was assessed at baseline and 1, 2, 4, and 6 h after consumption of blueberry containing 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols or a macronutrient- and micronutrient-matched control drink (0 mg total blueberry polyphenols). Second, an intake-dependence study was conducted (from baseline to 1 h) with 319, 637, 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols and a control. RESULTS: We observed a biphasic time-dependent increase in FMD, with significant increases at 1-2 and 6 h after consumption of blueberry polyphenols. No significant intake-dependence was observed between 766 and 1791 mg. However, at 1 h after consumption, FMD increased dose dependently to


Effects of exercise with or without blueberries in the diet on cardio-metabolic risk factors: an exploratory pilot study in healthy subjects

Nyberg, S.; Gerring, E.; Gjellan, S.; Vergara, M.; Lindstrom, T.; Nystrom, F. H.
Show Details

BACKGROUND: The improvement of insulin sensitivity by exercise has been shown to be inhibited by supplementation of vitamins acting as antioxidants. OBJECTIVE: To examine effects of exercise with or without blueberries, containing natural antioxidants, on cardio-metabolic risk factors. METHODS: Fifteen healthy men and 17 women, 27.6 +/- 6.5 years old, were recruited, and 26 completed a randomized cross-over trial with 4 weeks of exercise by running/jogging 5 km five times/week and 4 weeks of minimal physical activity. Participants were also randomized to consume 150 g of blueberries, or not, on exercise days. Laboratory variables were measured before and after a 5 km running-race at maximal speed at the beginning and end of each period, i.e. there were four maximal running-races and eight samplings in total for each participant. RESULTS: Insulin and triglyceride levels were reduced while HDL-cholesterol increased by exercise compared with minimal physical activity. Participants randomized to consume blueberries showed an increase in fasting glucose levels compared with controls, during the exercise period (blueberries: from 5.12 +/- 0.49 mmol/l to 5.32 +/- 0.29 mmol/l; controls: from 5.24 +/- 0.27 mmol/l to 5.17 +/- 0.23 mmol/l, P = 0.04 for difference in change). Triglyceride levels fell in the control group (from 1.1 +/- 0.49 mmol/l to 0.93 +/- 0.31 mmol/l, P = 0.02), while HDL-cholesterol increased in the blueberry group (from 1.51 +/- 0.29 mmol/l to 1.64 +/- 0.33 mmol/l, P = 0.006). CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion of blueberries induced differential effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors, including increased levels of both fasting glucose and HDL-cholesterol. However, since it is possible that indirect effects on food intake were induced, other than consumption of blueberries, further studies are needed to confirm the findings.


Effects of exercise with or without blueberries in the diet on cardio-metabolic risk factors: an exploratory pilot study in healthy subjects

Nyberg, S.; Gerring, E.; Gjellan, S.; Vergara, M.; Lindstrom, T.; Nystrom, F. H.
Show Details

BACKGROUND: The improvement of insulin sensitivity by exercise has been shown to be inhibited by supplementation of vitamins acting as antioxidants. OBJECTIVE: To examine effects of exercise with or without blueberries, containing natural antioxidants, on cardio-metabolic risk factors. METHODS: Fifteen healthy men and 17 women, 27.6 +/- 6.5 years old, were recruited, and 26 completed a randomized cross-over trial with 4 weeks of exercise by running/jogging 5 km five times/week and 4 weeks of minimal physical activity. Participants were also randomized to consume 150 g of blueberries, or not, on exercise days. Laboratory variables were measured before and after a 5 km running-race at maximal speed at the beginning and end of each period, i.e. there were four maximal running-races and eight samplings in total for each participant. RESULTS: Insulin and triglyceride levels were reduced while HDL-cholesterol increased by exercise compared with minimal physical activity. Participants randomized to consume blueberries showed an increase in fasting glucose levels compared with controls, during the exercise period (blueberries: from 5.12 +/- 0.49 mmol/l to 5.32 +/- 0.29 mmol/l; controls: from 5.24 +/- 0.27 mmol/l to 5.17 +/- 0.23 mmol/l, P = 0.04 for difference in change). Triglyceride levels fell in the control group (from 1.1 +/- 0.49 mmol/l to 0.93 +/- 0.31 mmol/l, P = 0.02), while HDL-cholesterol increased in the blueberry group (from 1.51 +/- 0.29 mmol/l to 1.64 +/- 0.33 mmol/l, P = 0.006). CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion of blueberries induced differential effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors, including increased levels of both fasting glucose and HDL-cholesterol. However, since it is possible that indirect effects on food intake were induced, other than consumption of blueberries, further studies are needed to confirm the findings.


Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity

Rodriguez-Mateos, A.; Rendeiro, C.; Bergillos-Meca, T.; Tabatabaee, S.; George, T. W.; Heiss, C.; Spencer, J. P.
Show Details

BACKGROUND: There are very limited data regarding the effects of blueberry flavonoid intake on vascular function in healthy humans. OBJECTIVES: We investigated the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on endothelial function in healthy men and assessed potential mechanisms of action by the assessment of circulating metabolites and neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity. DESIGN: Two randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover human-intervention trials were conducted with 21 healthy men. Initially, the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and polyphenol absorption and metabolism was assessed at baseline and 1, 2, 4, and 6 h after consumption of blueberry containing 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols or a macronutrient- and micronutrient-matched control drink (0 mg total blueberry polyphenols). Second, an intake-dependence study was conducted (from baseline to 1 h) with 319, 637, 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols and a control. RESULTS: We observed a biphasic time-dependent increase in FMD, with significant increases at 1-2 and 6 h after consumption of blueberry polyphenols. No significant intake-dependence was observed between 766 and 1791 mg. However, at 1 h after consumption, FMD increased dose dependently to


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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.