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.

Concentrations of metals in tissues of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) near a copper-nickel smelter at Sudbury, Ontario, Canada: a factor analytic approach

Bagatto, G.; Crowder, A. A.; Shorthouse, J. D.
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Determination of carbendazim in blueberries by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography

Bushway, R. J.; Hurst, H. L.; Kugabalasooriar, J.; Perkins, L. B.
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A fluorescent reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic method was developed for the analysis of carbendazim in blueberries. Recoveries of fortified blueberries at 27 and 810 ng/g were more than adequate with good precision. Forty commercial blueberry samples were analyzed and the amount of carbendazim ranged from none detected (detection limit of 15 ng/g) to 155 ng/g. Confirmation of carbendazim in the blueberry samples was made by enzyme immunoassay and UV photodiode array.


Effects of Vaccinium Myrtillus anthocyanosides on arterial vasomotion

Colantuoni, A.; Bertuglia, S.; Magistretti, M. J.; Donato, L.
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The effects of Vaccinium Myrtillus anthocyanosides (Myrtocyan, VMA; CAS 84082-34-8) on arteriolar vasomotion were assessed in cheek pouch microcirculation of anesthetized hamsters and in skeletal muscle microvasculature of unanesthetized hamster skin fold window preparation. Intravenously injected VMA induced vasomotion in cheek pouch arterioles and terminal arterioles with higher frequency in smaller vessels. In the skeletal muscle arteriolar networks VMA increased vasomotion frequency and amplitude in all vessel orders. The results indicate that VMA are effective in promoting and enhancing arteriolar rhythmic diameter changes, that play a role in the redistribution of microvascular blood flow and interstitial fluid formation.


Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides pharmacokinetics in rats

Morazzoni, P.; Livio, S.; Scilingo, A.; Malandrino, S.
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The pharmacokinetics of Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides (VMA) have been investigated in male rats. After intravenous administration anthocyanosides undergo a rapid body distribution and their disappearance from the blood is suitably fitted by a three-compartment pharmacokinetic model. The elimination occurs mostly through urine and bile. After a single oral administration the plasma concentrations of anthocyanosides reach peak level after 15 min and then rapidly decline within 2 h. The extent of cumulative urinary and biliary elimination together with the gastrointestinal recovery demonstrates an absorption of about 5%. No hepatic first-pass effect has been observed. Despite of the modest gastrointestinal absorption and the low absolute bioavailability (1.2% of the administered dose), the plasmatic peak levels (2-3 micrograms/ml) measured after the oral treatment are in the range of biological activity reported for these substances.


Antiulcer activity of an anthocyanidin from Vaccinium myrtillus

Magistretti, M. J.; Conti, M.; Cristoni, A.
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The antiulcer effects of 3,5,7-trihydroxy-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-benzopyrylium chloride (IdB 1027) were assessed in various experimental models. Given orally, IdB 1027 antagonized gastric ulcerations induced by pylorus ligation, stress, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, ethanol, reserpine, histamine and duodenal ulceration induced by mercaptamine (cysteamine). Moreover it antagonized chronic gastric ulcers induced by acetic acid. Given intraperitoneally, it was more potent than after oral administration. IdB 1027 did not affect gastric secretion in pylorus-ligated rats and increased gastric mucus in normal animals both in the absence and in the presence of indometacin treatment. Tolerability was very good. These results indicate that IdB 1027 possesses a promising antiulcer activity, probably by potentiating the defensive barriers of the gastrointestinal mucosa.


Vitamin C deficiency in growing willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus lagopus)

Hanssen, I.; Grav, H. J.; Steen, J. B.; Lysnes, H.
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Willow ptarmigan chicks raised on a diet containing 265 mg ascorbic acid/kg develop scury-like symptoms and die by 4 weeks of age. If blueberry plants are given as an ad libitum supplement to this diet, the malady is prevented. We have described the clinical, pathological and histological changes which accompany this malnutrition and conclude that they are in accord with the description of scurvy in guinea pig and man. Biochemical determination of ascorbic acid synthesis in the kidney of ptarmigan chicks indicated a rate of synthesis five times that found in livers of growing white rats. Blueberry plants and many other plants found in the natural diet of ptarmigan chicks contain 2,000 to 5,000 mg ascorbic acid/kg dry weight. Feeding experiments showed that the pathological signs were avoided and that already afflicted chicks recovered if the vitamin C content of the diet was raised to 750 mg/kg dry weight of food. Since the food intake of the chicks was 5 to 8 g/day the daily requirement of external vitamin C is about 150 mg/kg body weight. To our knowledge this is the first example of an animal which, while producing vitamin C itself, requires substantial amounts of external vitamin C to survive.


Visible Light-Induced Lipid Peroxidation of Unsaturated Fatty Acids in the Retina and the Inhibitory Effects of Blueberry Polyphenols

Liu, Y.; Zhang, D.; Hu, J.; Liu, G.; Chen, J.; Sun, L.; Jiang, Z.; Zhang, X.; Chen, Q.; Ji, B.
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The lipid peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) in the retina not only threatens visual cells but also affects the physiological health of the retina. In this work, the potential damages caused by daily visible light exposure on retinal UFAs were evaluated via a simulated in vitro model. At the same time, the benefits of dietary supplementation of blueberries to the eyes were also assessed. After prolonged light exposure, lipid peroxidation occurred for both docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids (DHA and AA, respectively). The oxidized UFAs presented obvious cytotoxicity and significantly inhibited cell growth in retinal pigment epithelium cells. Among the different blueberry polyphenol fractions, the flavonoid-rich fraction, in which quercetin was discovered as the main component, was considerably better in preventing visible light-induced DHA lipid peroxidation than the anthocyanin- and phenolic acid-rich fractions. Then the retinal protective activity of blueberry polyphenols against light-induced retinal injury was confirmed in vivo. On the basis of the above results, inhibiting lipid peroxidation of UFAs in the retina is proposed to be another important function mechanism for antioxidants to nourish eyes.


Antioxidant and Anticoagulant Status Were Improved by Personalized Dietary Intervention Based on Biochemical and Clinical Parameters in Cancer Patients

Lee, G. Y.; Lee, J. J.; Lee, S. M.
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We investigated whether personalized dietary intervention could improve clinical measurements such as immune cell-mediated cytotoxicity, serum albumin, derivatives of reactive oxygen metabolites (D-ROMS), D-dimer, and fibrinogen. Cancer patients received either a treatment support diet (TD, for those with chemotherapy), or a remission support diet (RD; for those in remission) for at least 3 wk (21-61 days). Both diets were low glycemic, low fat, and high plant protein diets; the diet for the TD group contained an additional 0.5 servings of protein. Based on clinical values, additional amounts of garlic, onion, tomato, shiitake, rice bran, kale, blueberry, pineapples, and/or turmeric powder were provided in regular meals. Estimated daily intake of protein, plant fat, garlic, onion, allicin, and quercetin was greater in the TD compared to the RD. An increased intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium and a reduction in D-dimer were noted compared to baseline diets in both groups. A decrease in D-ROMS in the RD and an increase in albumin and an increased tendency in cytotoxicity in the TD were observed. In conclusion, personalized diets with supplemented functional ingredients improved antioxidant status and/or anticoagulant activity in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and in remission.


Plasma bioavailability and regional brain distribution of polyphenols from apple/grape seed and bilberry extracts in a young swine model

Chen, T. Y.; Kritchevsky, J.; Hargett, K.; Feller, K.; Klobusnik, R.; Song, B. J.; Cooper, B.; Jouni, Z.; Ferruzzi, M. G.; Janle, E. M.
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SCOPE: The pharmacokinetics, bioavailability and regional brain distribution of polyphenols from apple-grape seed extract (AGSE) mixture and bilberry extract was studied after three weeks of dosing in weanling pigs. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Weanling piglets were treated for 3 weeks with extracts of (AGSE) or bilberry extracts, using a physiological (27.5 mg/kg) or supplement (82.5mg/kg) dose. A 24 hour pharmacokinetic study was conducted and brain tissue was harvested. Major flavan-3-ol and flavonol metabolites including catechin-O-beta-glucuronide, epicatechin-O-beta-glucuronide, 3’O-methyl-catechin-O-beta-glucuronide, 3’methyl-epicatechin-O-beta-glucuronide, quercetin-O-beta-glucuronide and O-methyl-quercetin-O-beta-glucuronide were analyzed in plasma, urine and regional brain extracts from AGSE groups. Anthocyanidin-O-galactosides and O-glucosides of delphinidin (Del), cyanidin (Cyn), petunidin (Pet), peonidin (Peo) and malvidin (Mal) were analyzed in plasma, urine and brain extracts from bilberry groups CONCLUSION: : Significant plasma dose-dependence was observed in flavan-3-ol metabolites and methyl-quercetin-beta-glucuronide of the AGSE group and in Del and Cyn galactosides and Pet, Peo, and Cyn glucosides of the bilberry groups. In the brain, a significant dose-dependence was found in the cerebellum and frontal cortex in all major flavan-3-ol metabolites. All anthocyanidin glycosides except for delphinidin, showed a dose-dependent increase in the cerebellum. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


The chemoprotection of a blueberry anthocyanin extract against the acrylamide-induced oxidative stress in mitochondria: unequivocal evidence in mice liver

Zhao, M.; Wang, P.; Zhu, Y.; Liu, X.; Hu, X.; Chen, F.
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Acrylamide (AA) is one of the most important contaminants occurring in heated food products. Accumulating evidence indicates that AA-induced toxicity is associated with oxidative stress and long-term exposure to AA induced mitochondria collapse and finally leads to apoptosis. Whereas anthocyanins are natural antioxidants and have a strong ability to reduce oxidative damage in vivo. This study investigates the protection of a blueberry anthocyanin extract (BAE) against AA-induced mitochondrial oxidative stress in mice models. The activities of electron transport chain complexes, oxidative status, and the structure and function of mitochondria were measured. Results showed that pretreatment with BAE markedly inhibited reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, and prevented the successive events associated with the mitochondrial damage and dysfunction, including recovered activities of electron transport chain, ATPase and superoxide dismutase, ameliorated depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential and membrane lipid peroxidation, reduced release of cytochrome c and protection of mitochondria against swelling. In a word, mitochondria are a key target at the organelle level for the protective effect of BAE against AA toxicity. These results will be helpful to provide new clues for a better understanding of the AA toxicity intervention mechanism and for exploring effective dietary constituents for intervention of AA toxicity.


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Looking for more health research?

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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.