Posts Tagged “strawberries”

Examining Whether Eating Berries Reduces the Effects of Stress

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More consumption of berries has been associated with reduced stress indicators, according to a study by Penn State University. Published in the journal Nutrients, the research looked at the link between berry consumption and the allostatic load in U.S. adults.

According to the research abstract, allostatic load is an aggregate measure of chronic stress-induced indicators across cardiovascular, metabolic, autonomic and immune systems. The research found that greater consumption of berries was associated with a lower composite allostatic load score.

“The mean [allostatic load] composite scores for consumers of any berries (11.9), strawberries (11.6), and blueberries (11.6), respectively, were significantly lower than nonconsumers (12.3), after fully adjusting for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and dietary confounders,” the abstract said. “A significant dose-response relationship was determined between greater consumption of total berries, strawberries, and blueberries and lower mean [allostatic load] composite scores.”

In conclusion, researchers said that “increasing berry intake is a simple dietary modification that could reduce stress-related morbidity/comorbidity and promote health.”

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Wish Farms Introduces Pink-A-Boo Pineberries

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Plant City, FL – International grower and year-round marketer of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Wish Farms, is proud to announce the fifth berry to its lineup: Pink-A-Boo Pineberries®.

The trademarked name is a play on words, giving nod to the berry’s ripe pink hue. Pineberries are white in color and turn a pink blush when ripe. It has a strawberry flavor, but with essences of pineapple, pear, and apricot. Since their sugar content is slightly higher, and they have lower relative acidity than traditional red strawberries, pineberries have a delicate flavor finish that leaves the palate pleasantly refreshed.

“I think this new berry is going to be a big winner for Wish Farms, our growers, and our retail partners,” said Wish Farms owner Gary Wishnatzki, “Our entire team is energized, and we are putting on a full court press to make it a success. We have a commitment to a serious marketing strategy that is going to move the needle in the marketplace.”

Pink-A-Boo Pineberries® are packed in a one layer, 10 oz consumer unit. The label features a picture of a ripe pineberry and the phrase “Ripe and Ready” for further emphasis. The branded, bright pink box holds six of these units, and its vibrant color is eye-catching on display.

The pineberry was developed through traditional breeding techniques at the University of Florida. In fact, the red strawberries consumers enjoy today were crossed with a wild white strawberry many years ago. Wish Farms decided to prominently display “NON-GMO” on its label.

Director of Marketing, Amber Maloney: “Shoppers have become conditioned to look for a bright red strawberry, so it is up to us to educate the consumer on this unique addition to their produce aisle. In addition to the call outs on the label and point of sale signage, a robust social media campaign is planned across multiple platforms.”

Last season, retail trials were executed successfully on a small scale. With a ramp up from 6 acres, the company has exponentially increased acreage of Pink-A-Boo Pineberries® in its strawberry growing regions in Florida and California.

Wish Farms is harvesting nearly 100 acres of Pink-A-Boo Pineberries® in Florida from December to April, and 150 acres in California with modest volumes beginning January, increasing through June and into fall.

Wishnatzki: “Our farm teams in Plant City, Duette, Salinas, Santa Maria, and Oxnard have had good experience growing and packing pineberries so I’m confident that it will be a great season for quality and taste.”

About Wish Farms:

Feel Good. Eat Berries. Make A Difference.

It isn’t just a catchy phrase, giving back is engrained in the company culture. Through the Wish Farms Family Foundation, a portion of profits are dedicated to their three pillars of giving: Food Insecurity, Youth Education and Community. With a defined mission, they hope to make the world a better place.

Founded in 1922, Wish Farms is a fourth-generation, family operated company. As a year-round supplier of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and now Pink-A-Boo Pineberries®, it grows both conventional and organic varieties. Nationally recognized for innovation, Wish Farms utilizes patented traceability technology to ensure quality and safety by tying consumer feedback to specific information from each day’s harvest.  For more information, please visit

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Strawberries Could Help Reduce Harmful Inflammation in the Colon

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A335by The American Chemical Society

BOSTON — Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a set of painful conditions that can cause severe diarrhea and fatigue. Treatments can include medications and surgery. But now researchers report that a simple dietary intervention could mitigate colonic inflammation and improve gut health. In this case, a strawberry — or rather, less than a cupful of strawberries — a day could help keep the doctor away.

The researchers are presenting their results recently at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“The sedentary lifestyle and dietary habits of many people in this country — high-sugar, high-animal-fat, but low-fiber diets — may promote colonic inflammation and increase the risk of IBD,” says Hang Xiao, Ph.D., who led the study.

In 2015, 3 million adults in the U.S. reported being diagnosed with IBD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. IBD includes both Crohn’s disease, which can infect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the colon and rectum. People with IBD also have a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

The dietary consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with a lowered risk of IBD. To establish an effective and practical approach to decrease colonic inflammation in both IBD patients and the general population, Xiao and his team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst focused on strawberries due to their wide consumption. According to Yanhui Han, a Ph.D. student who conducted the study, most of the previous reports focused on the effects of purified compounds and extracts from strawberries. “But when you only test the purified compounds and extracts, you miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fiber, as well as phenolic compounds bound to the fibers, that can’t be extracted by solvents,” he says. He adds that it also makes sense to study the effects of whole berries because people mostly consume the whole fruits rather than their extracts.

In their experiment, Han and Xiao used four groups of mice — a group of healthy mice consuming a regular diet, and three groups of mice with IBD consuming a regular diet, a diet with 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder or a diet with 5 percent whole strawberry powder. Xiao says they tried to feed the mice doses of strawberries that would be in line with what a human could reasonably consume.

The researchers found that dietary consumption of whole strawberries at a dose equivalent to as low as three-quarters of a cup of strawberries per day in humans significantly suppressed symptoms like body weight loss and bloody diarrhea in mice with IBD. Strawberry treatments also diminished inflammatory responses in the mice’s colonic tissue.

But decreased inflammation wasn’t the strawberry’s only conferred benefit during this study. Colonic inflammation adversely impacts the composition of microbiota in the gut. With IBD, the abundance of harmful bacteria increases, while levels of beneficial bacteria decrease in the colon. Following the dietary treatments of whole strawberries, the researchers observed a reversal of that unhealthy microbiota composition in the IBD mice. Xiao’s team also obtained experimental data that indicated strawberries might impact abnormal metabolic pathways in the IBD mice, which in turn could lead to the decreased colonic inflammation they observed.

Next, the team will try to validate their findings in IBD patients. While eating three-quarters of a cup of strawberries a day could be beneficial for those looking to enhance their gut health, Xiao advises patients to consult with their doctors before changing their diets. He also suggests avoiding this type of nutritional intervention if one is allergic to the fruit.

The researchers acknowledge funding from the USDA.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Del Monte Optimistic About Blueberry Season; Monsanto is Seeking Sweeter Strawberries

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A12Optimism abounds at Del Monte Fresh Produce as the domestic blueberry shipments progress.  Also, Monsanto is looking to genetically alter strawberry to get a sweet taste and longer shelf life.

Del Monte Fresh

By Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc.

Coral Gables, FL – Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. (Del Monte) is optimistic about the domestic blueberry season that spans between March and September.  It began in the south and eastern states, continued to California in April, and later into British Columbia.

Del Monte’s Chilean import blueberry season finished with increased volumes over the prior years and it continues to expand to meet the growing interest from retailers and food service customers. 

“The demand for fresh blueberries in the United States has grown steadily over the past decade. Per capita consumption more than tripled since 2005, exceeding 1.5 pounds per person,” said Dennis Christou, VP Marketing N.A. “Del Monte has been a key player in growing and shipping premium blueberries in Chile for more than 25 years and we continue to expand our operations to meet this growing demand. A major advantage we have is our Del Monte Fresh Cut business which these products support.”

The Mexico blueberry season will begin in early fall.

About Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc.  Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. is one of North America’s leading marketers and distributors of high-quality fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables.  Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. markets its products in North America under the Del Monte® brand (as well as other brands), a symbol of product innovation, quality, freshness and reliability for more than 125 years.

 Sweeter Strawberries

by Erin Brodwin, Business Insider

In a move aimed at securing a place in the rapidly evolving food technology scene, the agricultural giant Monsanto has invested $125 million in a gene-editing startup called Pairwise.

The alliance could tee up Monsanto, long known for its controversial dealings with farmers and its role in popularizing genetically modified organisms, to introduce some of the first produce made using the blockbuster gene-editing tool Crispr. Sweeter strawberries with a longer shelf life could be among the earliest offerings.

The tool allows scientists to accurately target specific problem areas within the genome of a living thing, opening up the potential to tweak the DNA of everything from row crops like corn and soy to produce like apples and asparagus to make the produce taste sweeter, last longer on the shelf, and even tolerate drought or flooding.

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Strawberry Growers form Gem Pack Marketing Company

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aIRVINE, Calif. — Gem Pack LLC is a new company that will be marketing strawberries the year around and has been formed by three Irvine-based family strawberry growers.

The fruit will be shipped by Orange County Produce LLC, Fujishige Farms Inc. and Mike Etchandy Farms Inc. under the Gem Pack label.  All sales and shipping for the three companies are now being handled by Gem Pack.

However, Orange County Produce, Fujishige Farms and Mike Etchandy Farms will retain their own identities as they continue their strawberry growing operations.  The move is a matter of survival.  For example, Orange County Produce was launched as a small company, but has grown and has made the change to become more competitive in the marketplace.

Gem Pack sources from 1,000 acres in central Mexico, 500 acres in Watsonville, 800 acres in Oxnard (200 summer-planted and 600 winter-planted) and 200 acres in Orange County.  The company also has 100 acres of organic strawberries in Watsonville and Orange County.

The father’s of the three operations have a long history of cooperation, since the growers’ dads were partners.  Each family owned business is in its third generation.

Gem Pack will market all the berry brands from the three companies as well as the Healthy Harvest label from the Gonzales family in Watsonville.  Labels include Orange County Produce, Ventura County and Opus/Frosun out of Mexico.

Eventually, the company may consolidate into a single label, but for now, the local labels will remain intact for the benefit of retailers who prefer to emphasize locally grown strawberries.

The Gem Pack label was created for the benefit of retail customers who prefer an exclusive label year-round.  Many customers such as retailers, wholesalers and foodservice operations are seeking suppliers to provide product 12 months out of the year.

Orange County Produce will continue to grow and market vegetables and green beans under its own label.


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Grapes Can Lower Risk of Infection, Study Suggests

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DSCN2927+1A USDA study has revealed that eating grapes could help obese people decrease certain types of fats in their blood that are linked to heart disease and lower their risk of infection.

Susan Zunino, a molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) in Davis, California, studies phytochemicals—natural compounds found in fruits such as grapes and strawberries. Her recent work suggests that phytochemicals from grapes may have a positive effect on the immune system of obese individuals.
Hospital and clinic documentation of viral and bacterial infection has shown that obese people are at a much higher risk for developing infections after surgery, according to Zunino. About 35 percent of Americans are obese, which puts them at a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and bacterial and viral infections.
In the study, obese participants drank either a mixture of water and grape powder made from freeze-dried table grapes or a placebo twice a day for three weeks. The two groups switched to the opposite mixture for the next three weeks.
Blood samples were analyzed to measure the effects of grapes on blood lipids (fats), blood markers of inflammation and cells of the immune system during the study. Compared with the placebo group, the grape powder group had reduced plasma concentrations of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease.
When scientists stimulated immune cells from blood with a bacterial component, they found an increase in the production of proteins—cytokines—that are instrumental in fighting off infections. In previous research, Zunino discovered that one of the same cytokine proteins was produced when obese individuals consumed strawberry powder.
However, obesity leads to more inflammation in the body, according to Zunino. Therefore, more studies are needed to find out if the increase in cytokine production, after grapes and strawberries are eaten, contributes to more inflammation or is beneficial in reducing infections.

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Study Suggests Anthocyanins In Strawberries Improve Insulin Resistance

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DSCN7180By California Strawberry Commission

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.  Food plays an important role in the life of a diabetic and the ADA identifies berries, including strawberries, as one of the top ten superfoods for a diabetes meal plan because they are low in sugar, packed with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

A new study* published in the February 2016 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Nutrition found that anthocyanin-rich strawberries may improve insulin sensitivity.  Insulin resistance (IR) is a hallmark of metabolic syndrome and a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Typically, after a meal, the pancreas produces an appropriate amount of insulin to usher glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. People with IR have built up a tolerance to insulin, so the pancreas must churn out extra insulin to coax blood sugar into the cells. Over time, this process can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Researchers observed the effect of anthocyanins on the postprandial insulin response of 21 obese adults with insulin resistance. Subjects were served a typical ‘Western-style’ meal high in carbohydrates and fat plus a beverage that contained freeze-dried whole strawberry powder. The beverages were controlled for fiber, and the amount of strawberry powder ranged from 0 grams to 40 grams (equivalent to 3 cups of fresh strawberries). When subjects drank the most concentrated beverage, they didn’t produce as much insulin as when they drank the least concentrated versions. In other words, they didn’t need as much insulin to metabolize their meal after drinking the anthocyanin-rich strawberry shake.

While the exact mechanisms are unclear, strawberry anthocyanins may alter insulin signaling at a cellular level.

“These results add to the collective evidence that consuming strawberries may help improve insulin action,” says study author Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., MS, Director, Center for Nutrition Research, Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Naturally low in sugar (just 7 grams), strawberries provide a unique combination of essential nutrients, dietary fiber and phytochemicals.  One serving of eight medium strawberries is just 45 calories and provides more vitamin C per serving than orange and 140% of the daily value.  Additionally, strawberries are a good source of fiber (3 grams), folate and potassium, along with a variety of health-promoting phytochemicals.  Clinical research suggests that eating a serving of eight medium strawberries a day may improve heart health, help manage diabetes, support brain health, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

For the latest nutrition news on strawberries, visit:

About California Strawberry Commission:  The California Strawberry Commission is a state government agency located in Northern California charged with conducting research to support California’s strawberry industry. With an emphasis on sustainable farming practices, the commission works with strategic partners focusing on production and nutrition research, food safety training and education, marketing and communications, trade relations and public policy.

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Berry Consumption Continues to Rise

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DSCN4895As consumers continue to search for fresh produce that offers the healthiest fare available, they are increasingly turning to berry consumption.

And this trend also confirms that inclusion of berries as an active ingredient in a host of food items at home continues to grow: they are a do-not-disregard ingredient.

One of the rock stars of the berry category is the blueberry, which today is only surpassed by strawberries among consumer berry purchases. Due to their undeniable presence as a superberry and superfood, blueberries have been equally embraced by Millennials who are writing their own formulas for physical fitness as well as seniors, the generation of consumers that continues to embrace food as vehicles of nutrition carefully and naturally packaged to deliver a one-two punch.

According to Josh Borro, author of The Upshot, information released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that blueberry consumption increased 411 percent from 2000 to 2012. Strawberry consumption increased 60 percent during this time frame, and fresh raspberry consumption increased 475 percent.

Borro said that advances on the supply side, which have resulted in delivery of a superior piece of fruit farmed under optimum conditions, give consumers exactly the kinds of berries they are craving.

While the total percent increases show that Americans are loving their berries, there is a sacrificial side to the equation. According to Burro, increases in berry consumption are reflected in decreases in consumption of other fruit such as apples and bananas.

One of the factors influencing increased — and increasing -– availability of berries is the fact that these categories have been strengthened through increased plantings of superior strains in ever-growing locations around the globe. The berry industry is a global category, and consumers are able to enjoy their berries of choice regardless of the time of year as larger export volumes make their way into the United States during the domestic off-season.

Another factor that has driven berry sales is the fact that they are a perfect fruit to eat “as is.” According to the 2015 State of the Plate report issued by the Produce for Better Health Foundation, 83 percent of all fruit is eaten “as is.”

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People with Insulin Resistance Could be Helped by Strawberries

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IMG_6053+1The anthocyanin-rich nature of strawberries may help improve insulin sensitivity, according to a new study published in the February issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Nutrition.  The finding is important because research has shown prolonged insulin resistance (IR) can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers gave obese adults with insulin resistance a meal high in fat and carbohydrates paired with a beverage that contained freeze-dried whole strawberry powder (equivalent to 3 cups of strawberries) to test the effects of anthocyanins,  Subjects who drank the most concentrated versions of the strawberry drink produced less insulin.
Thanks to the strawberry shake, it appeared the body didn’t need much insulin to metabolize their meal.  Researchers note that while the exact reason strawberries have this effect remains unclear, it may be that anthocyanins alter insulin signaling at a cellular level.
Strawberries are listed as one of the top ten superfoods to be included in a diabetes meal plan by The American Diabetes Association lists.  Low in sugar — but loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins — strawberries are a highly beneficial berry for both diabetics and non-diabetics.
Experts say eating just eight medium-sized strawberries a day may improve heart health, help manage diabetes, support brain health, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

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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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