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.

The protective effects of berry-derived anthocyanins against visible light-induced damage in human retinal pigment epithelial cells

Wang, Y.; Zhang, D.; Liu, Y.; Wang, D.; Liu, J.; Ji, B.
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BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that anthocyanins (ACNs) in berries contribute to eye health. However, information on the relationship between the chemical structures and visual functions of ACNs is scarce. This study investigated the protection effects of ACNs with different structures against visible light-induced damage in human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. RESULTS: Four ACNs with different aglycones, namely, pelargonidin-3-glucoside (Pg-3-glu), cyanidin-3-glucoside (Cy-3-glu), delphinidin-3-glucoside, and malvidin-3-glucoside (Mv-3-glu), were isolated from three berries (blueberry, blackberry and strawberry). Of these ACNs, Cy-3-glu exhibited the highest reactive oxygen species inhibitory capacity in RPE cells, with 40 microg mL(-1) Cy-3-glu showing a ROS clearance of 57.5% +/- 4.2%. The expression of vascular endothelial growth factor levels were significantly (P < 0.05) down-regulated by Cy-3-glu and Mv-3-glu in a visible light-induced damage RPE cell model. Cy-3-glu and Pg-3-glu treatments significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited the increase in beta-galactosidase during the RPE cell ageing caused by visible light exposure. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the biological properties of different ACNs significantly vary. Cy-3-glu, which contains an ortho hydroxyl group in its B ring, possibly exerts multiple protective effects (antioxidant, anti-angiogenic and anti-ageing) in RPE cells. Therefore, Cy-3-glu may prove useful as a prophylactic health food for the prevention of retinal diseases.


Complex formation of blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) anthocyanins during freeze-drying and its influence on their biological activity

Correa-Betanzo, J.; Padmanabhan, P.; Corredig, M.; Subramanian, J.; Paliyath, G.
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Biological activity of polyphenols is influenced by their uptake and is highly influenced by their interactions with the food matrix. This study evaluated the complex formation of blueberry polyphenols with fruit matrixes such as pectin and cellulose and their effect on the biological and antiproliferative properties of human colon cell lines HT-29 and CRL 1790. Free or complexed polyphenols were isolated by dialyzing aqueous or methanolic blueberry homogenates. Seven phenolic compounds and thirteen anthocyanins were identified in blueberry extracts. Blueberry extracts showed varying degrees of antioxidant and antiproliferative activities, as well as alpha-glucosidase activity. Fruit matrix containing cellulose and pectin, or purified polygalacturonic acid and cellulose, did not retain polyphenols and showed very low antioxidant or antiproliferative activities. These findings suggest that interactions between polyphenols and the food matrix may be more complex than a simple association and may play an important role in the bioefficacy of blueberry polyphenols.


Prevalence of blueberry allergy in a Turkish population

Dereci, S.; Orhan, F.; Koca, T.; Akcam, M.
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Dietary phenolics against colorectal cancer. From promising preclinical results to poor translation into clinical trials: pitfalls and future needs

Nunez-Sanchez, M. A.; Gonzalez-Sarrias, A.; Romo-Vaquero, M.; Garcia-Villalba, R.; Selma, M. V.; Tomas-Barberan, F. A.; Garcia-Conesa, M. T.; Espin, J. C.
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Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a major cause of cancer death worldwide. Over 70% of CRC cases are sporadic and related to lifestyle. Epidemiological studies inversely correlate CRC incidence with the intake of fruits and vegetables but not with their phenolic content. Preclinical studies using in vitro (cell lines) and animal models of CRC have reported anticancer effects for dietary phenolics through the regulation of different markers and signaling pathways. Herein, we review and contrast the evidence between preclinical studies and clinical trials (patients with CRC or at risk, familial adenopolyposis or aberrant crypt foci) investigating the protective effects of curcumin, resveratrol, isoflavones, green tea extracts (epigallocatechin gallate), black raspberry powder (anthocyanins and ellagitannins), bilberry extract (anthocyanins), ginger extracts (gingerol derivatives) and pomegranate extracts (ellagitannins and ellagic acid). To date, curcumin is the most promising polyphenol as possible future adjuvant in CRC management. Overall, the clinical evidence of dietary phenolics against CRC is still weak and the amounts needed to exert some effects largely exceed common dietary doses. We discuss here the possible reasons behind the gap between preclinical and clinical research (inconsistence of results, lack of clinical endpoints, etc.), and provide an outlook and a roadmap to approach this topic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Role of a prudent breakfast in improving cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects with hypercholesterolemia: A randomized controlled trial

Adamsson, V.; Reumark, A.; Marklund, M.; Larsson, A.; Riserus, U.
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: It is unclear whether advising a prudent breakfast alone is sufficient to improve blood lipids and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight hypercholesterolemic subjects. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a prudent low-fat breakfast (PB) rich in dietary fiber lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and other cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects with elevated LDL-cholesterol levels. METHODS: In a parallel, controlled, 12-week study, 79 healthy overweight subjects (all regular breakfast eaters) were randomly allocated to a group that received a PB based on Nordic foods provided ad libitum or a control group that consumed their usual breakfast. The primary outcome was plasma LDL-C. Secondary outcomes were other blood lipids, body weight, sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and inflammation markers (C-reactive protein [CRP] and tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 [TNF-R2]), and blood pressure. The PB was in accordance with national and Nordic nutrition recommendations and included oat bran porridge with low-fat milk or yogurt, bilberry or lingonberry jam, whole grain bread, low-fat spread, poultry or fatty fish, and fruit. RESULTS: No differences were found in LDL-C, other blood lipids, body weight, or glucose metabolism, but SAD, plasma CRP, and TNF-R2 decreased more during PB compared with controls (p < 0.05). In the overall diet, PB increased dietary fiber and beta-glucan compared with controls (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Advising a prudent breakfast for 3 months did not influence blood lipids, body weight, or glucose metabolism but reduced markers of visceral fat and inflammation. The trial was registered in the Current Controlled Trials database (http://www.controlled-trials.com); International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 84550872.


Role of a prudent breakfast in improving cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects with hypercholesterolemia: A randomized controlled trial

Adamsson, V.; Reumark, A.; Marklund, M.; Larsson, A.; Riserus, U.
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: It is unclear whether advising a prudent breakfast alone is sufficient to improve blood lipids and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight hypercholesterolemic subjects. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a prudent low-fat breakfast (PB) rich in dietary fiber lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and other cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects with elevated LDL-cholesterol levels. METHODS: In a parallel, controlled, 12-week study, 79 healthy overweight subjects (all regular breakfast eaters) were randomly allocated to a group that received a PB based on Nordic foods provided ad libitum or a control group that consumed their usual breakfast. The primary outcome was plasma LDL-C. Secondary outcomes were other blood lipids, body weight, sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and inflammation markers (C-reactive protein [CRP] and tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 [TNF-R2]), and blood pressure. The PB was in accordance with national and Nordic nutrition recommendations and included oat bran porridge with low-fat milk or yogurt, bilberry or lingonberry jam, whole grain bread, low-fat spread, poultry or fatty fish, and fruit. RESULTS: No differences were found in LDL-C, other blood lipids, body weight, or glucose metabolism, but SAD, plasma CRP, and TNF-R2 decreased more during PB compared with controls (p < 0.05). In the overall diet, PB increased dietary fiber and beta-glucan compared with controls (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Advising a prudent breakfast for 3 months did not influence blood lipids, body weight, or glucose metabolism but reduced markers of visceral fat and inflammation. The trial was registered in the Current Controlled Trials database (http://www.controlled-trials.com); International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 84550872.


Role of a prudent breakfast in improving cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects with hypercholesterolemia: A randomized controlled trial

Adamsson, V.; Reumark, A.; Marklund, M.; Larsson, A.; Riserus, U.
View Article
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: It is unclear whether advising a prudent breakfast alone is sufficient to improve blood lipids and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight hypercholesterolemic subjects. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a prudent low-fat breakfast (PB) rich in dietary fiber lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and other cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects with elevated LDL-cholesterol levels. METHODS: In a parallel, controlled, 12-week study, 79 healthy overweight subjects (all regular breakfast eaters) were randomly allocated to a group that received a PB based on Nordic foods provided ad libitum or a control group that consumed their usual breakfast. The primary outcome was plasma LDL-C. Secondary outcomes were other blood lipids, body weight, sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and inflammation markers (C-reactive protein [CRP] and tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 [TNF-R2]), and blood pressure. The PB was in accordance with national and Nordic nutrition recommendations and included oat bran porridge with low-fat milk or yogurt, bilberry or lingonberry jam, whole grain bread, low-fat spread, poultry or fatty fish, and fruit. RESULTS: No differences were found in LDL-C, other blood lipids, body weight, or glucose metabolism, but SAD, plasma CRP, and TNF-R2 decreased more during PB compared with controls (p < 0.05). In the overall diet, PB increased dietary fiber and beta-glucan compared with controls (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Advising a prudent breakfast for 3 months did not influence blood lipids, body weight, or glucose metabolism but reduced markers of visceral fat and inflammation. The trial was registered in the Current Controlled Trials database (http://www.controlled-trials.com); International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 84550872.


Vaccinium myrtillus

Noguera Palau, J. J.
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Anthocyanins and phenolic acids from a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) powder counteract lipid accumulation in THP-1-derived macrophages

Del Bo, C.; Cao, Y.; Roursgaard, M.; Riso, P.; Porrini, M.; Loft, S.; Moller, P.
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PURPOSE: Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins (ACNs) and phenolic acids (PA), which are hypothesized to protect against development of atherosclerosis. The present study examined the effect of an ACN- and PA-rich fractions, obtained from a wild blueberry powder, on the capacity to counteract lipid accumulation in macrophages derived from monocytic THP-1 cells. In addition, we tested the capacity of pure ACNs and their metabolites to alter lipid accumulation. METHODS: THP-1-derived macrophages were incubated with fatty acids (500 muM oleic/palmitic acid, 2:1 ratio) and different concentrations (from 0.05 to 10 mug mL-1) of ACN- and PA-rich fractions, pure ACN standards (malvidin, delphinidin and cyanidin 3-glucoside), and metabolites (syringic, gallic and protocatechuic acids). Lipid accumulation was quantified with the fluorescent dye Nile red. RESULTS: Lipid accumulation was reduced at all concentrations of the ACN-rich fraction tested with a maximum reduction at 10 mug mL-1 (-27.4 %; p < 0.0001). The PA-rich fraction significantly reduced the lipid accumulation only at the low concentrations from 0.05 microg mL-1 to 0.3 microg mL-1, with respect to the control with fatty acids. Supplementation with pure ACN compounds (malvidin and delphinidin-3-glucoside and its metabolic products (syringic and gallic acid)) reduced lipid accumulation especially at the low concentrations, while no significant effect was observed after cyanidin-3-glucoside and protocatechuic acid supplementation. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrated a potential role of both the ACN- and PA-rich fractions and single compounds in the lipid accumulation also at concentrations close to that achievable in vivo.


Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

Johnson, S. A.; Figueroa, A.; Navaei, N.; Wong, A.; Kalfon, R.; Ormsbee, L. T.; Feresin, R. G.; Elam, M. L.; Hooshmand, S.; Payton, M. E.; Arjmandi, B. H.
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BACKGROUND: Postmenopausal women have a high prevalence of hypertension and often develop arterial stiffness thereby increasing cardiovascular disease risk. Although antihypertensive drug therapies exist, increasing numbers of people prefer natural therapies. In vivo studies and a limited number of clinical studies have demonstrated the antihypertensive and vascular-protective effects of blueberries. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of daily blueberry consumption for 8 weeks on blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension. DESIGN: This was an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Forty-eight postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension recruited from the greater Tallahassee, FL, area participated. INTERVENTION: Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 22 g freeze-dried blueberry powder or 22 g control powder. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Resting brachial systolic and diastolic blood pressures were evaluated and arterial stiffness was assessed using carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity. C-reactive protein, nitric oxide, and superoxide dismutase were measured at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks. STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Statistical analysis was performed using a split plot model of repeated measures analysis of variance. RESULTS: After 8 weeks, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure (131+/-17 mm Hg [P<0.05] and 75+/-9 mm Hg [P<0.01], respectively) and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (1,401+/-122 cm/second; P<0.01) were significantly lower than baseline levels (138+/-14 mm Hg, 80+/-7 mm Hg, and 1,498+/-179 cm/second, respectively), with significant (P<0.05) groupxtime interactions in the blueberry powder group, whereas there were no changes in the group receiving the control powder. Nitric oxide levels were greater (15.35+/-11.16 mumol/L; P<0.01) in the blueberry powder group at 8 weeks compared with baseline values (9.11+/-7.95 mumol/L), whereas there were no changes in the control group. CONCLUSIONS: Daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, which may be due, in part, to increased nitric oxide production.


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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.