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.

In vivo sequential study of skeletal muscle capillary permeability in diabetic rats: effect of anthocyanosides

Cohen-Boulakia, F.; Valensi, P. E.; Boulahdour, H.; Lestrade, R.; Dufour-Lamartinie, J. F.; Hort-Legrand, C.; Behar, A.
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Alterations in the capillary filtration of macromolecules are well documented in diabetic patients and experimental diabetes. Various flavonoids including anthocyanosides and ginkgo biloba extracts have been shown to be effective against experimentally induced capillary hyperfiltration. The aim of the present study was to test the effects of anthocyanosides on capillary filtration in diabetic rats. For this purpose, we have validated the use of our previously described in vivo method for measurement of the capillary filtration of albumin (CFA) in rats. Male Wistar rats with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes were randomized in 3 groups to receive either ginkgo biloba (group A), Vaccinium myrtillus (group B), or no treatment (group C). The isotopic test of CFA consisted of intravenously injecting 99mtechnetium-labeled albumin, inducing venous compression on a hindquarter, and measuring radioactivity externally on the limb before, during, and after removal of venous compression. After removal of the tourniquet, the radioactivity curve decreased. Interstitial albumin retention (AR) and the ratio of the amplitudes of the low- and high-frequency peaks (LF/HF ratio), an index of lymphatic function obtained by the fast Fourier transform of the last part of the radioactivity curve, were calculated. In STZ-treated animals, the isotopic test was performed at a mean age of 97 days (time 1) and after 6 weeks (time 2) and 12 weeks (time 3) of treatment, ie, 6 and 12 weeks after time 1. At time 1, AR was significantly higher in the 3 diabetic groups than in the control rats, without a significant difference between these groups. In group B, AR decreased significantly (P = .015) at times 2 and 3. In group C, AR increased significantly (P < .0005) from time 1 to time 3. In group A, AR increased slightly (NS) between time 1 and time 3. In groups A and C, the LF/HF ratio significantly increased with time (P < .0005) and the levels at time 3 were significantly higher versus control rats (P < .0001). In group B, the LF/HF ratio remained unchanged from time 1 to time 3 and similar to the values found in the control rats. In conclusion, these data show that (1) this new in vivo noninvasive method can be used to study CFA in skeletal muscle in diabetic rats, (2) it is reproducible and may be repeated over several months to evaluate spontaneous microcirculatory changes, and (3) anthocyanosides appear to be effective in preventing the increase in CFA and the failure of lymphatic uptake of interstitial albumin in diabetic animals.


Effects of blueberry and cranberry juice consumption on the plasma antioxidant capacity of healthy female volunteers

Pedersen, C. B.; Kyle, J.; Jenkinson, A. M.; Gardner, P. T.; McPhail, D. B.; Duthie, G. G.
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OBJECTIVE: To assess whether consumption of 500 ml of blueberry juice or cranberry juice by healthy female subjects increased plasma phenolic content and antioxidant capacity. DESIGN: Latin square arrangement to eliminate ordering effects. After an overnight fast, nine volunteers consumed 500 ml of blueberry juice, cranberry juice or a sucrose solution (control); each volunteer participated on three occasions one week apart, consuming one of the beverages each time. Blood samples were obtained by venipuncture at intervals up to four hours after consumption of the juices. Urine samples were also obtained four hours after consuming the juice. RESULTS: Consumption of cranberry juice resulted in a significant increase in the ability of plasma to reduce potassium nitrosodisulphonate and Fe(III)-2,4, 6-Tri(2-pyridyl)-s-triazine, these measures of antioxidant capacity attaining a maximum after 60-120 min. This corresponded to a 30% increase in vitamin C and a small but significant increase in total phenols in plasma. Consumption of blueberry juice had no such effects. CONCLUSION: The increase in plasma antioxidant capacity following consumption of cranberry juice could mainly be accounted for by an increase in vitamin C rather than phenolics. This also accounted for the lack of an effect of the phenolic-rich but vitamin C-low blueberry juice. Sponsorship: Funded by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department and the Danish Government.


Effects of blueberry and cranberry juice consumption on the plasma antioxidant capacity of healthy female volunteers

Pedersen, C. B.; Kyle, J.; Jenkinson, A. M.; Gardner, P. T.; McPhail, D. B.; Duthie, G. G.
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OBJECTIVE: To assess whether consumption of 500 ml of blueberry juice or cranberry juice by healthy female subjects increased plasma phenolic content and antioxidant capacity. DESIGN: Latin square arrangement to eliminate ordering effects. After an overnight fast, nine volunteers consumed 500 ml of blueberry juice, cranberry juice or a sucrose solution (control); each volunteer participated on three occasions one week apart, consuming one of the beverages each time. Blood samples were obtained by venipuncture at intervals up to four hours after consumption of the juices. Urine samples were also obtained four hours after consuming the juice. RESULTS: Consumption of cranberry juice resulted in a significant increase in the ability of plasma to reduce potassium nitrosodisulphonate and Fe(III)-2,4, 6-Tri(2-pyridyl)-s-triazine, these measures of antioxidant capacity attaining a maximum after 60-120 min. This corresponded to a 30% increase in vitamin C and a small but significant increase in total phenols in plasma. Consumption of blueberry juice had no such effects. CONCLUSION: The increase in plasma antioxidant capacity following consumption of cranberry juice could mainly be accounted for by an increase in vitamin C rather than phenolics. This also accounted for the lack of an effect of the phenolic-rich but vitamin C-low blueberry juice. Sponsorship: Funded by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department and the Danish Government.


Effects of blueberry and cranberry juice consumption on the plasma antioxidant capacity of healthy female volunteers

Pedersen, C. B.; Kyle, J.; Jenkinson, A. M.; Gardner, P. T.; McPhail, D. B.; Duthie, G. G.
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OBJECTIVE: To assess whether consumption of 500 ml of blueberry juice or cranberry juice by healthy female subjects increased plasma phenolic content and antioxidant capacity. DESIGN: Latin square arrangement to eliminate ordering effects. After an overnight fast, nine volunteers consumed 500 ml of blueberry juice, cranberry juice or a sucrose solution (control); each volunteer participated on three occasions one week apart, consuming one of the beverages each time. Blood samples were obtained by venipuncture at intervals up to four hours after consumption of the juices. Urine samples were also obtained four hours after consuming the juice. RESULTS: Consumption of cranberry juice resulted in a significant increase in the ability of plasma to reduce potassium nitrosodisulphonate and Fe(III)-2,4, 6-Tri(2-pyridyl)-s-triazine, these measures of antioxidant capacity attaining a maximum after 60-120 min. This corresponded to a 30% increase in vitamin C and a small but significant increase in total phenols in plasma. Consumption of blueberry juice had no such effects. CONCLUSION: The increase in plasma antioxidant capacity following consumption of cranberry juice could mainly be accounted for by an increase in vitamin C rather than phenolics. This also accounted for the lack of an effect of the phenolic-rich but vitamin C-low blueberry juice. Sponsorship: Funded by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department and the Danish Government.


The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity

Muth, E. R.; Laurent, J. M.; Jasper, P.
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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of bilberry on night visual acuity (VA) and night contrast sensitivity (CS). METHODS: This study utilized a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. The subjects were young males with good vision; eight received placebo and seven received active capsules for three weeks. Active capsules contained 160 mg of bilberry extract (25-percent anthocyanosides), and the placebo capsules contained only inactive ingredients. Subjects ingested one active or placebo capsule three times daily for 21 days. After the three-week treatment period, a one-month washout period was employed to allow any effect of bilberry on night vision to dissipate. In the second three-week treatment period, the eight subjects who first received placebo were given active capsules, and the seven who first received active capsules were given placebo. Night VA and night CS was tested throughout the three-month experiment. RESULTS: There was no difference in night VA during any of the measurement periods when examining the average night VA or the last night VA measurement during active and placebo treatments. In addition, there was no difference in night CS during any of the measurement periods when examining the average night CS or the last night CS measurement during active and placebo treatments. CONCLUSION: The current study failed to find an effect of bilberry on night VA or night CS for a high dose of bilberry taken for a significant duration. Hence, the current study casts doubt on the proposition that bilberry supplementation, in the forms currently available and in the doses recommended, is an effective treatment for the improvement of night vision in this population.


Antioxidant capacity, vitamin C, phenolics, and anthocyanins after fresh storage of small fruits

Kalt, W.; Forney, C. F.; Martin, A.; Prior, R. L.
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Fresh strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa Duch.), raspberries (Rubus idaeus Michx.), highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.), and lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) were stored at 0, 10, 20, and 30 degrees C for up to 8 days to determine the effects of storage temperature on whole fruit antioxidant capacity (as measured by the oxygen radical absorbing capacity assay, Cao et al., Clin. Chem. 1995, 41, 1738-1744) and total phenolic, anthocyanin, and ascorbate content. The four fruit varied markedly in their total antioxidant capacity, and antioxidant capacity was strongly correlated with the content of total phenolics (0.83) and anthocyanins (0.90). The antioxidant capacity of the two blueberry species was about 3-fold higher than either strawberries or raspberries. However, there was an increase in the antioxidant capacity of strawberries and raspberries during storage at temperatures >0 degrees C, which was accompanied by increases in anthocyanins in strawberries and increases in anthocyanins and total phenolics in raspberries. Ascorbate content differed more than 5-fold among the four fruit species; on average, strawberries and raspberries had almost 4-times more ascorbate than highbush and lowbush blueberries. There were no ascorbate losses in strawberries or highbush blueberries during 8 days of storage at the various temperatures, but there were losses in the other two fruit species. Ascorbate made only a small contribution (0.4-9.4%) to the total antioxidant capacity of the fruit. The increase observed in antioxidant capacity through postharvest phenolic synthesis and metabolism suggested that commercially feasible technologies may be developed to enhance the health functionality of small fruit crops.


Antioxidant capacity, vitamin C, phenolics, and anthocyanins after fresh storage of small fruits

Kalt, W.; Forney, C. F.; Martin, A.; Prior, R. L.
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Fresh strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa Duch.), raspberries (Rubus idaeus Michx.), highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.), and lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) were stored at 0, 10, 20, and 30 degrees C for up to 8 days to determine the effects of storage temperature on whole fruit antioxidant capacity (as measured by the oxygen radical absorbing capacity assay, Cao et al., Clin. Chem. 1995, 41, 1738-1744) and total phenolic, anthocyanin, and ascorbate content. The four fruit varied markedly in their total antioxidant capacity, and antioxidant capacity was strongly correlated with the content of total phenolics (0.83) and anthocyanins (0.90). The antioxidant capacity of the two blueberry species was about 3-fold higher than either strawberries or raspberries. However, there was an increase in the antioxidant capacity of strawberries and raspberries during storage at temperatures >0 degrees C, which was accompanied by increases in anthocyanins in strawberries and increases in anthocyanins and total phenolics in raspberries. Ascorbate content differed more than 5-fold among the four fruit species; on average, strawberries and raspberries had almost 4-times more ascorbate than highbush and lowbush blueberries. There were no ascorbate losses in strawberries or highbush blueberries during 8 days of storage at the various temperatures, but there were losses in the other two fruit species. Ascorbate made only a small contribution (0.4-9.4%) to the total antioxidant capacity of the fruit. The increase observed in antioxidant capacity through postharvest phenolic synthesis and metabolism suggested that commercially feasible technologies may be developed to enhance the health functionality of small fruit crops.


Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation

Joseph, J. A.; Shukitt-Hale, B.; Denisova, N. A.; Bielinski, D.; Martin, A.; McEwen, J. J.; Bickford, P. C.
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Ample research indicates that age-related neuronal-behavioral decrements are the result of oxidative stress that may be ameliorated by antioxidants. Our previous study had shown that rats given dietary supplements of fruit and vegetable extracts with high antioxidant activity for 8 months beginning at 6 months of age retarded age-related declines in neuronal and cognitive function. The present study showed that such supplements (strawberry, spinach, or blueberry at 14.8, 9.1, or 18.6 gm of dried aqueous extract per kilogram of diet, respectively) fed for 8 weeks to 19-month-old Fischer 344 rats were also effective in reversing age-related deficits in several neuronal and behavioral parameters including: oxotremorine enhancement of K(+)-evoked release of dopamine from striatal slices, carbachol-stimulated GTPase activity, striatal Ca(45) buffering in striatal synaptosomes, motor behavioral performance on the rod walking and accelerod tasks, and Morris water maze performance. These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging.


Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation

Joseph, J. A.; Shukitt-Hale, B.; Denisova, N. A.; Bielinski, D.; Martin, A.; McEwen, J. J.; Bickford, P. C.
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Ample research indicates that age-related neuronal-behavioral decrements are the result of oxidative stress that may be ameliorated by antioxidants. Our previous study had shown that rats given dietary supplements of fruit and vegetable extracts with high antioxidant activity for 8 months beginning at 6 months of age retarded age-related declines in neuronal and cognitive function. The present study showed that such supplements (strawberry, spinach, or blueberry at 14.8, 9.1, or 18.6 gm of dried aqueous extract per kilogram of diet, respectively) fed for 8 weeks to 19-month-old Fischer 344 rats were also effective in reversing age-related deficits in several neuronal and behavioral parameters including: oxotremorine enhancement of K(+)-evoked release of dopamine from striatal slices, carbachol-stimulated GTPase activity, striatal Ca(45) buffering in striatal synaptosomes, motor behavioral performance on the rod walking and accelerod tasks, and Morris water maze performance. These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging.


Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation

Joseph, J. A.; Shukitt-Hale, B.; Denisova, N. A.; Bielinski, D.; Martin, A.; McEwen, J. J.; Bickford, P. C.
View Article
Show Details

Ample research indicates that age-related neuronal-behavioral decrements are the result of oxidative stress that may be ameliorated by antioxidants. Our previous study had shown that rats given dietary supplements of fruit and vegetable extracts with high antioxidant activity for 8 months beginning at 6 months of age retarded age-related declines in neuronal and cognitive function. The present study showed that such supplements (strawberry, spinach, or blueberry at 14.8, 9.1, or 18.6 gm of dried aqueous extract per kilogram of diet, respectively) fed for 8 weeks to 19-month-old Fischer 344 rats were also effective in reversing age-related deficits in several neuronal and behavioral parameters including: oxotremorine enhancement of K(+)-evoked release of dopamine from striatal slices, carbachol-stimulated GTPase activity, striatal Ca(45) buffering in striatal synaptosomes, motor behavioral performance on the rod walking and accelerod tasks, and Morris water maze performance. These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging.


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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 communications consulting company specializing in nutrition communications.

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.