Posts Tagged “blueberries”

Blueberries are No. 1 Recommended Fruit, Survey Concludes

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Blueberries are recommended frequently or always 86 percent of the time, according to a survey of about 200 U.S. based dietitians. The survey was conducted by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council of Folsom, CA.

Other fruits with high levels of support include strawberries, apples and oranges, according to a news release.

“We’re committed to working with registered dietitians because they’re at the forefront of making a positive difference in the health of Americans by providing science-based dietary and lifestyle recommendations,” Kasey Cronquist, president of USHBC, said in the release. “It’s part of the mission of the USHBC to continuously investigate the role blueberries may play in promoting good health, and it’s encouraging to see that research is reflected by the health professional community.”

The survey revealed:

  • 88 percent of surveyed of dietitians said blueberries are rich in vitamins and minerals;
  • 85 percent of those polled said one cup of blueberries as a good source of fiber; and 
  • 78 percent of those surveyed said cited plant polyphenols in blueberries.

Earlier this year, research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found participants with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries showed clinically relevant changes in measures of heart health, according to the release. The council said it will continue to communicate with health professionals about the science-backed benefits of blueberries. Information on the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s health professional programs is available at 

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Canadian Research on Blueberry Health Benefits is reviewed

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The health benefits of blueberries is backed by a substantial amount of evidence. A recent paper outlines what is known so far.

The paper, called Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanisns was published in Advances in Nutrition.

“This review of research findings will help consumers, healthcare providers and the food and health industry understand the current state of knowledge on blueberries and health,” Wilhelmina Kalt, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kentville Research and Development Centre, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada, the paper’s lead editor, said in a news release. “The paper also discusses gaps where more research is needed to better understand how blueberries affect health.” 

The authors review the scientific literature on blueberries’ potential health benefits, according to the news release, and also looks at the research on anthocyanins (163.3 mg/100 g of blueberries) – the polyphenol (plant compound), that give blueberries their vibrant blue color.

“It can be safely stated that daily moderate intake (50 mg anthocyanins, one-third cup of blueberries) can mitigate the risk of diseases and conditions of major socioeconomic importance in the Western world,” the paper said in its conclusion.

The review paper was funded by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, but the council had no role in the design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the paper, according to the release.

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Two Tasty New Berries from USDA Developed

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by Sharon Durham, USDA AgResearch Magazine

Up until the early 1900s, blueberries were picked from the wild, and the bushes of the berries often did not survive when transplanted elsewhere. True domestication-involving propagation of the plant by the grower and plant breeding to improve desirable traits-was beyond reach until 1910. That’s when USDA botanist Frederick Coville discovered that blueberry bushes require moist, acidic soil to thrive. In 1916, exactly a century ago, the first commercial cultivated crop ofberries highbush blueberries was harvested.

That history is now enhanced by Baby Blues, a cultivar released in cooperation with the Oregon State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station and the Washington State University’s Agricultural Research Center (ARS). This new blueberry is making its debut during the 100th anniversary of the first cultivated blueberry crop to go to market.

“Baby Blues is a vigorous, high-yielding, small-fruited, machine-harvestable highbush blueberry with outstanding fruit quality. It’s well-suited for those processing markets that require a small fruit size,” says Finn. “Baby Blues should offer growers and processors an alternative to the low-yielding Rubel highbush blueberry, and it may thrive in milder areas where northern highbush blueberries are grown.”

Finn also developed a new blackberry named Columbia Giant. This thornless, trailing blackberry cultivar came from the same breeding program as Baby Blues and was also released in cooperation with the Oregon State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station.

“This cultivar is a high-quality, high-yielding, machine-harvestable blackberry with firm, sweet fruit that, when processed, is similar to or better in quality than fruit from the industry standards Marion and Black Diamond,” says Finn. “Due to its extremely large size, however, Columbia Giant will most commonly be sold in the fresh market.”

Columbia Giant is adaptable to areas where other trailing blackberries successfully grow.

“Two Tasty New Berries From ARSwas published in the September 2016 issue of AgResearch Magazine.

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Younger Consumers are More Apt to Buy Peaches

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Young consumers are more likely to buy peaches than older people, and those 18- to 24-year-olds prefer crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, a new University of Florida study shows.

In fact, people aged 51 to 68 are the least interested in buying peaches. Those of that age who do buy peaches prefer sweet, melting-texture peaches. Although they did not study the reason older people don’t like peaches as much, UF/IFAS scientists think older consumers may have repeatedly bought poor-quality peaches in the past, triggering an interest in other fruits.

Overall, consumers want sweet, tasty peaches that melt in your mouth, she said.
In the newly published study titled: “In Pursuit of the Perfect Peach,” Olmstead led an experiment in which 300 consumers took an online survey, then sampled peaches at two Florida farmers’ markets.

The study showed the “ideal peach” depended on combinations of fruit qualities. Peaches labeled as “so sweet … no sugar was needed” were most likely be purchased, reflecting what previous UF/IFAS research has found about strawberries and blueberries.

Furthermore, like the prior UF/IFAS research on blueberries, even though peaches are known to contain antioxidants, consumers buy them more for their taste than their nutritive value, the study showed.

Although consumers wanted sweet, absolute sugar concentrations, there is something other than sweetness that leads to overall liking, the study showed. It could be acid content and aromas, Olmstead said.

Most consumers prefer melting peaches, but small segments also like crisp and firm fruit, the study showed.

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Salmonella Can Grow on Bruised Blueberries

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DSCN3762+1Salmonella can grow on bruised blueberries kept at shipping or retail display temperatures, according to a new study in the  Journal of Food Protection.  The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Citrus Research and Education Center at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida,

Strawberries and blueberries harvested at or near full-ripe maturity and softer than those that are not as ripe and therefore more susceptible to bruising during harvest and transport. The researchers wanted to see how E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella behaved on bruised fruit and intact fruit at shipping temperature, 35.6˚ F, and retail display 59.9˚ F. So they The bruised the berries inoculated them with bacteria and observed.

They found that the E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella did not grow on strawberries at shipping or retail display temperatures. But that  Salmonella did grow on bruised fully ripe blueberries at  retail display temperatures.

Salmonella causes an infection called salmonellosis.  Symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody.

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Restaurants are Increasing Use of Blueberries in Menus

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DSCN3903FOLSOM, CA — Customer interest in healthy dining options is pushing colorful fruits onto restaurant menus, according to Technomic, which surveyed more than 300 foodservice professionals. 

 Though they are normally found in breakfast items, blueberries are showing up in dished served all throughout the day.  They are reported as the third most-purchased fruit, trailing only strawberries and apples, according to a press release.

“We learned from a top 500 chain menu survey earlier this year that blueberry mentions on menus boomed 97 percent between 2007 and 2013,” says Mark Villata, executive director for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC). “Now, this usage and attitude study gives us insight into why. That is, what are the drivers influencing decision makers to increase their use of blueberries?”

When asked why they like using blueberries, the survey reports that chefs and operators say:

*Blueberries are a healthy option for customers (82 percent)

*Blueberries are low-labor and easy to use (82 percent)

*Blueberries give the entire operation a health halo (58 percent)

*Menu prices can be higher for items that include blueberries (42 percent)

“Blueberries are delicious, healthy and versatile, and add to our menu,” says David Goldstein, executive chef at Los Angeles-based Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill. “Our menu is loaded with fresh, healthy foods so when we put together our Harvest Quinoa Superfood Salad, we added dried blueberries. These days, I think customers expect to find blueberries in the healthiest options.” In addition, Sharky’s offers handmade, freshly prepared lemonades; one of their newest is Blueberry Mint made with fresh blueberries.

A survey conducted by Hebert Research in 2013 showed that 99% of Americans believe blueberries are healthy, according to a press release.  With demand for healthy menu items increasing, it will be interesting to see what dishes start showing up on menus.

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Risk of Parkinson’s is Reduced by Blueberries, Study Says

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bbsEating blueberries reduces the risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease and may protect human brain performance, according to a new study.

Scientists from North Carolina State University, Purdue University and Rutgers University investigated how extracts from blueberries, grape seeds, hibiscus, blackcurrant and Chinese mulberries, all of which are rich in health-promoting phytochemicals, could suppress cell death caused by Parkinson’s.  The study, Neuroprotective effects of anthocyanin- and proanthocyanidin-rich extracts in cellular models of Parkinson’s disease, was published in the March 25 issue of the Brain Research scientific journal.

Two specific classes of phytochemicals are effective against the neurodegeneration or loss of nerve cell function in the brain brought on by Parkinson’s,the study indicates. Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins are naturally occurring plant compounds prevalent in some fruits and vegetables.

“Blueberries have both of these natural chemicals in high concentrations, so they pack a more powerful, 1-2 punch,” researcher Mary Ann Lila, director of North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute in Kannapolis, N.C., said in a release. “They can have synergistic benefits that surpass many other fruits when it comes to protection against brain cell death, which in turn may reduce the risk of contracting Parkinson’s.”

In the U.S., 1 million people are estimated to suffer from Parkinson’s, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that involves the malfunction and death of vital brain nerve cells. The disease  leaves people unable to control movement normally. Early symptoms include shaking, stiffness, slowed movement and difficulty walking.

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Blueberry Health Benefits are Cited in Survey

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DSCN2931 Americans are nearly twice as likely to buy blueberries now as nine years ago, Hebert Research found in its recent survey of 3,765 primary household shoppers.

“We do these surveys every five years to make sure we’re moving the needle, and this one shows an excellent return on our investment,” said John Shelford, a member of the council’s promotion committee. “We went from 39 percent awareness of health benefits in 2004 to 84 percent today, more than doubling awareness in 10 years. That’s remarkable.”

As in 2008, the typical blueberry consumer in 2013 was upscale, well educated and white — but more likely to be from a minority. Consumers, primarily ages 46 to 65 in 2008, have grown more likely to be 35 to 44.

“We really have been focusing our efforts on developing the future generation,” Shelford said. “In terms of market channel, fresh has a preference with customers. We work hard to bring fresh to them, but it’s challenging given the labor situation. The industry has a number of ready-to-eat providers today thanks to new sorting methods, so the consumer can have that fruit before it’s frozen.”

Shoppers are now likely to buy blueberries based solely on health benefits, the survey found.

Asked what they like most about the fruit, consumers cited health (84%), taste (81%), convenience (61%) and versatility (44%), among other attributes.

Nutritional benefits were widely acknowledged. For example,,  99 % believe blueberries are a healthy food.

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Wild Blueberry Study Shows Health Benefits from the Fruit

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DSCN0865Consumption of wild blueberries can help blood vessel function and health, according to new research conducted by European researchers.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in a study supported by the Alpro Foundation Grant and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, published the report last September.

The Wild Blueberry Association of North America in Portland, ME donated blueberry test materials (typically freeze dried powder of whole blueberries) for the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Reading in Reading, United Kingdom, University Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, Germany, and the University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.

The findings are the first to link wild blueberry polyphenols, natural compounds that are present in goods volume in wild blueberries, to improvements in vascular function in healthy men, according to a news release from the WBANA.

“Importantly, even the lowest amount of wild blueberries tested in the study, equivalent to 3/4 cup of wild blueberries, was able to improve endothelial function, which is an amount easy to incorporate into a daily diet,” Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, from the Division of Cardiology, Pulmunology and Vascular Medicine at the University of Dusseldorf, said in the release.

“The simple message is eat your fruits and vegetables in all the colors,” said David Bell, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission.  Bell said the research on health benefits may perhaps be true for cultivated blueberries, but researchers only studied wild blueberries.

Less than  one percent of Maine’s wild blueberries are sold fresh, with nearly all the harvest frozen. Maine’s growers harvest about 86 million pounds of wild blueberries annually.

Bell said there are many more health studies “in the pipeline,” with more studies using clinical human trials and also delving into the “why” behind apparent health benefits.“What I think we are figuring out is that blueberries are up regulating some (positive) genes and down regulating other (negative) genes,” he said.

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Red Grapes, Blueberries May Help Immune System, Study Says

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DSCN0869An Oregon State University (OSU) study has discovered two compounds found in red grapes and blueberries may be able to enhance people’s immune functions.

The university’s Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) analyzed 446 compounds to test their effects on immunity, and observed a positive correlation with resveratrol and pterostilbene, found in red grapes and blueberries respectively.

The researchers saw these compounds worked in synergy with vitamin D and had a significant impact in raising the expression of the human CAMP (cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide) gene that is involved in immune function.

“Out of a study of hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out,” LPI principal investigator Adrian Gombart said in a release.

“Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing. It’s a pretty interesting interaction.”

The two compounds, known as stilbenoids, are produced by plants to fight infections.

The studies were supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

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