Berry fruits: compositional elements, biochemical activities, and the impact of their intake on human health, performance, and disease.
ABSTRACT An overwhelming body of research has now firmly established that the dietary intake of berry fruits has a positive and profound impact on human health, performance, and disease. Berry fruits, which are commercially cultivated and commonly consumed in fresh and processed forms in North America, include blackberry ( Rubus spp.), black raspberry ( Rubus occidentalis), blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosum), cranberry (i.e., the American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, distinct from the European cranberry, V. oxycoccus), red raspberry ( Rubus idaeus) and strawberry ( Fragaria x ananassa). Other berry fruits, which are lesser known but consumed in the traditional diets of North American tribal communities, include chokecherry ( Prunus virginiana), highbush cranberry ( Viburnum trilobum), serviceberry ( Amelanchier alnifolia), and silver buffaloberry ( Shepherdia argentea). In addition, berry fruits such as arctic bramble ( Rubus articus), bilberries ( Vaccinuim myrtillus; also known as bog whortleberries), black currant ( Ribes nigrum), boysenberries ( Rubus spp.), cloudberries ( Rubus chamaemorus), crowberries ( Empetrum nigrum, E. hermaphroditum), elderberries ( Sambucus spp.), gooseberry ( Ribes uva-crispa), lingonberries ( Vaccinium vitis-idaea), loganberry ( Rubus loganobaccus), marionberries ( Rubus spp.), Rowan berries ( Sorbus spp.), and sea buckthorn ( Hippophae rhamnoides), are also popularly consumed in other parts of the world. Recently, there has also been a surge in the consumption of exotic "berry-type" fruits such as the pomegranate ( Punica granatum), goji berries ( Lycium barbarum; also known as wolfberry), mangosteen ( Garcinia mangostana), the Brazilian açaí berry ( Euterpe oleraceae), and the Chilean maqui berry ( Aristotelia chilensis). Given the wide consumption of berry fruits and their potential impact on human health and disease, conferences and symposia that target the latest scientific research (and, of equal importance, the dissemination of this information to the general public), on the chemistry and biological and physiological functions of these "superfoods" are necessary.
- SourceAvailable from: eit.ac.nz[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The antioxidant activities of a series of commonly consumed and biogenetically related plant phenolics, namely, anthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and catechins, in a liposomal model system have been investigated. The antioxidant efficacies of the compounds were evaluated on their abilities to inhibit the fluorescence intensity decay of an extrinsic probe, 3-[p-(6-phenyl)-1,3,5-hexatrienyl]phenylpropionic acid, caused by free radicals generated during metal ion-induced peroxidation. Distinct structure-activity relationships were revealed for the antioxidant abilities of these structurally related compounds. Whereas antioxidant activity increased with an increasing number of hydroxyl substituents present on the B-ring for anthocyanidins, the converse was observed for catechins. However, substitution by methoxyl groups diminished the antioxidant activity of the anthocyanidins. Substitution at position 3 of ring C played a major role in determining the antioxidant activity of these classes of compounds. The anthocyanidins, which possess a hydroxyl group at position 3, demonstrated potent antioxidant activities. For the cyanidins, an increasing number of glycosyl units at position 3 resulted in decreased antioxidant activity. Similarly, the substitution of a galloyl group at position 3 of the flavonoid moiety resulted in significantly decreased antioxidant activity for the catechins. Among catechins, cis-trans isomerism, epimerization, and racemization did not play a role in overall antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activities of test compounds (at 40 microM concentrations) were compared to the commercial antioxidants tert-butylhydroquinone, butylated hydroxytoluene, butylated hydroxyanisole, and vitamin E (all at 10 microM concentrations).Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 10/2002; 50(19):5308-12. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Anthocyanins from tart cherries, Prunus cerasus L. (Rosaceae) cv. Balaton and Montmorency; sweet cherries, Prunus avium L. (Rosaceae); bilberries, Vaccinum myrtillus L. (Ericaceae); blackberries, Rubus sp. (Rosaceae); blueberries var. Jersey, Vaccinium corymbosum L. (Ericaceae); cranberries var. Early Black, Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. (Ericaceae); elderberries, Sambucus canadensis (Caprifoliaceae); raspberries, Rubus idaeus (Rosaceae); and strawberries var. Honeoye, Fragaria x ananassa Duch. (Rosaceae), were investigated for cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant activities. The presence and levels of cyanidin-3-glucosylrutinoside 1 and cyanidin-3-rutinoside 2 were determined in the fruits using HPLC. The antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from cherries was comparable to the commercial antioxidants, tert-butylhydroquinone, butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole, and superior to vitamin E, at a test concentration of 125 microg/ml. Anthocyanins from raspberries and sweet cherries demonstrated 45% and 47% cyclooxygenase-I and cyclooxygenase-II inhibitory activities, respectively, when assayed at 125 microg/ml. The cyclooxygenase inhibitory activities of anthocyanins from these fruits were comparable to those of ibuprofen and naproxen at 10 microM concentrations. Anthocyanins 1 and 2 are present in both cherries and raspberry. The yields of pure anthocyanins 1 and 2 in 100 g Balaton and Montmorency tart cherries, sweet cherries and raspberries were 21, 16.5; 11, 5; 4.95, 21; and 4.65, 13.5 mg, respectively. Fresh blackberries and strawberries contained only anthocyanin 2 in yields of 24 and 22.5 mg/100 g, respectively. Anthocyanins 1 and 2 were not found in bilberries, blueberries, cranberries or elderberries.Phytomedicine 10/2001; 8(5):362-9. · 2.97 Impact Factor
- Phytochemistry 10/2005; 66(17):1969-71. · 3.05 Impact Factor
Berry Fruits: Compositional Elements, Biochemical
Activities, and the Impact of Their Intake on Human
Health, Performance, and Disease
NAVINDRA P. SEERAM#
Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California,
Los Angeles, California 90095
An overwhelming body of research has now firmly established that the dietary intake of berry fruits
has a positive and profound impact on human health, performance, and disease. Berry fruits, which
are commercially cultivated and commonly consumed in fresh and processed forms in North America,
include blackberry (Rubus spp.), black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), blueberry (Vaccinium
corymbosum), cranberry (i.e., the American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, distinct from the
European cranberry, V. oxycoccus), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and strawberry (Fragaria ×
ananassa). Other berry fruits, which are lesser known but consumed in the traditional diets of North
American tribal communities, include chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), highbush cranberry (Viburnum
trilobum), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), and silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea). In
addition, berry fruits such as arctic bramble (Rubus articus), bilberries (Vaccinuim myrtillus; also known
as bog whortleberries), black currant (Ribes nigrum), boysenberries (Rubus spp.), cloudberries (Rubus
chamaemorus), crowberries (Empetrum nigrum, E. hermaphroditum), elderberries (Sambucus spp.),
gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa), lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), loganberry (Rubus loganobac-
cus), marionberries (Rubus spp.), Rowan berries (Sorbus spp.), and sea buckthorn (Hippophae
rhamnoides), are also popularly consumed in other parts of the world. Recently, there has also been
a surge in the consumption of exotic “berry-type” fruits such as the pomegranate (Punica granatum),
goji berries (Lycium barbarum; also known as wolfberry), mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), the
Brazilian açaí berry (Euterpe oleraceae), and the Chilean maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis). Given
the wide consumption of berry fruits and their potential impact on human health and disease,
conferences and symposia that target the latest scientific research (and, of equal importance, the
dissemination of this information to the general public), on the chemistry and biological and
physiological functions of these “superfoods” are necessary.
The International Berry Health Benefits Symposium was
initiated in 2005 (June 13–14, Corvallis, OR) and is a series of
biennial conferences organized to investigate and explore the
latest scientific research related to berry consumption and human
health. The 2007 International Berry Health Benefits Symposium
(June 11–12, Corvallis, OR) was sponsored by the Oregon
Raspberry & Blackberry Commission, the Oregon Strawberry
Commission, the California Strawberry Commission, the Wash-
ington Red Raspberry Commission, the Wild Blueberry As-
sociation of North America, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry
Council, and the Cranberry Institute. The symposium comprised
a multidisciplinary group of international participants from Asia,
Europe, New Zealand, Mexico, and North and South Americas.
Participants included berry growers; industrial whole foods,
beverage, and botanical ingredient manufacturers and suppliers;
basic scientists; and clinicians, dietitians, and other health-care
personnel. From the discussions, it was apparent that the public
has a growing interest in the potential human health benefits
that may be imparted from the consumption of berry fruits.
The cluster of papers presented here is largely derived from
presentations at the meeting. Discussions included scientific
reviews and recent research progress made in identifying
phytochemicals (plant chemicals) present in berry fruits and
elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of actions
of these compounds. The bioavailability, metabolism, and tissue
#Present address: Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical
Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Rhode Island, Kingston,
RI 02881 (e-mail email@example.com).
J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 627–629
10.1021/jf071988k CCC: $40.75
2008 American Chemical Society
Published on Web 01/23/2008
distribution of berry phytochemicals (namely, phenolics) was
the subject of several presentations. Some of the oral presenta-
tions were organized around selected chronic human diseases
that show promise in being positively affected by berry
consumption. These include heart health and cardiovascular
disease, neurodegenerative and other diseases of aging, obesity,
and also certain human cancers, such as esophageal and
gastrointestinal cancers. In addition, the effects of berry
consumption on symptoms of the metabolic syndrome and on
human performance enhancement were also included as oral
Before specific presentations are discussed, it is useful to
briefly reflect on berry phytochemicals and our understanding
of how their chemistry influences their biological and physi-
ological functions. Although many berry fruits contain micro-
and macronutrients including vitamins, minerals, folate, and
fiber, their various biological properties have been largely related
to their high levels and wide diversity of phenolic-type
phytochemicals. It is noteworthy that both lipophilic (minor)
and hydrophilic (major) phytochemicals are found in berries,
but it is the latter class that has been largely implicated in the
bioactivities of these fruits. However, the complementary,
additive, and/or synergistic effects resulting from multiple
phytochemicals found in berry fruits are believed to be
responsible for their wide range of observed biological properties
rather than these effects being due to a single constituent alone.
Berry phenolics include flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavonols,
and flavanols), tannins [condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins)
and hydrolyzable tannins (ellagitannins and gallotannins)],
stilbenoids, and phenolic acids (reviewed in ref 1). Among berry
phenolics, the anthocyanins (pigments that account for their
attractive colors), are best studied and have a wide range of
bioactivities including antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflam-
matory properties (2–4). However, advances in tannin/polyphe-
nol research have increased our knowledge of the roles that these
larger molecules play in human health (see ref 5; Editorial for
the Fourth Tannin Conference). The levels of a particular class
of tannin molecule, that is, either condensed (proanthocyanidins)
or hydrolyzable (ellagitannins) tannins, vary considerably among
berries. In fact, among commonly consumed berries, blueberries
and cranberries contain predominantly proanthocyanidins, whereas
blackberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, and strawberries
contain predominantly ellagitannins. Therefore, the class (and
specific chemical structures) of tannins present in a particular
berry type may contribute significantly to its unique biological
properties. For example, the bacterial antiadhesive properties
observed for the cranberry, which is apparently unique among
berry fruits, is accounted for by its oligomeric proanthocyani-
dins, which possess an A-type structural linkage (6). Similarly,
the distinct biological effects observed for blueberries (a
proanthocyanidin-rich fruit) versus strawberries (an ellagitannin-
rich fruit) on neuronal function and behavior in aging animals
may be due to the effects of the individual classes of tannins in
different regions of the brain (7). Shukitt-Hale et al. reported
that aging rats on a strawberry diet had better protection against
spatial deficits, probably because they were better able to retain
place information (a hippocampally mediated behavior), whereas
blueberry-fed animals had improved reversal learning, a be-
havior more dependent on intact striatal function (7). Evaluation
of the tissue distribution of the respective berry tannins, and
their metabolites, in separate brain regions of these animals is
planned for future collaborative research (N. P. Seeram, J.
Joseph, and B. Shukitt-Hale, personal communication). It is
noteworthy that anthocyanins, from blueberries, have been
previously reported to cross the blood-brain barrier of aged
rats and localize in various brain regions, important for learning
and memory (8).
Berry phenolics are best known for their ability to act as
antioxidants, but the biological activities exerted by berry
phytochemicals in vivo extend beyond antioxidation (reviewed
in ref 9). In fact, a large and growing body of evidence shows
that berry phytochemicals regulate the activities of metabolizing
enzymes; modulate nuclear receptors, gene expression, and
subcellular signaling pathways; and repair DNA oxidative
damage, etc. (9, 10). Although the multimechanistic actions of
berry phytochemicals have been firmly established from in vitro
studies, it has only been since the past decade that animal and
human studies have significantly increased our knowledge of
the bioavailability, metabolism, tissue distribution, and biological
effects of these compounds in vivo. It should be noted that based
on the current literature, it is widely accepted that berry
phenolics are “poorly bioavailable” due to their relatively “low
levels” in human circulation. However, berry phenolics are
extensively metabolized and also further converted by colonic
microflora into related molecules. These compounds may persist
in vivo, accumulate in target tissues, and contribute significantly
to the biological effects that have been observed for berry fruits.
Finally, it is also noteworthy that the levels of berry phenolics
in vivo may also be underestimated due to limitations in
laboratory extraction procedures because these compounds may
bind to proteins, etc., causing their extraction for chemical
analyses to be difficult. Therefore, in conclusion, studies into
the bioavailability and metabolism of berry phenolics are
necessary, and the aforementioned points are critical in the
overall examination of the role that berry phytochemicals play
in the prevention and treatment of chronic human diseases.
PRESENTATIONS AT THE SYMPOSIUM
The first session on “Anthocyanins and Health” had Michael
LefeVre from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center
presenting the effects of berry anthocyanins on gene regulation
and energy metabolism. Tony K. McGhie from the Horticulture
and Food Research Institute (HortResearch, New Zealand)
presented the in vitro and in vivo antioxidant properties of berry
In the session on “Cardiovascular Disease”, Giuseppe (Joe)
Mazza from Agriculture and Agri-Food (Canada) presented a
review on anthocyanins and heart health. Raika Koli from the
Biomarker Laboratory, National Public Health Institute KTL
(Finland), provided an update on a current human study
investigating the health effects of berry consumption in subjects
at risk for cardiovascular disease. The presentation of Jess D.
Reed from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, focused on
cranberry proanthocyanidins and cardiovascular health.
In the session on “Obesity”, Tanaka Tsuda from Chubu
University (Japan) discussed the regulation of adipocyte function
by berry anthocyanins and their potential for preventing the
metabolic syndrome. Ronald L. Prior from the USDA-ARS
Arkansas Nutrition Center, University of Arkansas, spoke on
anthocyanin absorption, metabolism, and obesity.
In the “Cancer” session, Gary Stoner and Laura Kresty, both
from The Ohio State University, discussed the prevention of
gastrointestinal tract cancers with berries and the ability of
cranberry extract to modulate signaling pathways in esophageal
cancer cells, respectively.
In the “Berries and Performance” session, Mary Ann Lila from
the University of Illinois reported on the performance-enhancing
effects of berries traditionally consumed by North American
J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 56, No. 3, 2008Symposium
tribal communities. Wilhelmina Kalt from Agriculture and Agri-
Food (Canada) discussed the distribution of anthocyanins in
body tissues of pigs after long-term blueberry feeding. James
A. Joseph from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center
and Aging, Tufts University, spoke on the beneficial effects of
berry fruits on behavioral and neuronal aging.
In the session on “Processing Effects”, Luke Howard from
the University of Arkansas presented a paper on how berry
polyphenolics change with processing.
In the final session on “Berry Phenolics: Composition and
Health Effects”, Riitta Puupponen-Pimiä from the VTT Techni-
cal Research Center (Finland) presented on the in vivo and in
vitro effects of therapeutically active berry compounds on human
health. NaVindra P. Seeram from the UCLA Center for Human
Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of California, Los
Angeles, discussed the bioavailability and bioactivity of straw-
berry phytochemicals in animals and human subjects. Maurizio
Battino from the Universita Politecnica Delle Marche (Italy)
reported the characterization of bioactive compounds from
different strawberry cultivars and the role of these compounds
on antioxidant capacity in vitro and in vivo. Alan Crozier from
the University of Glasgow (Scotland) presented a paper on berry
phenolics and their fate within the body after ingestion.
Finally, it should also be mentioned that DaVid Heber, UCLA
Center for Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University
of California, Los Angeles, presented the keynote dinner speech.
His discussion, “What Color Is Your Berry?”, focused on how
humans should move into the modern era of agriculture and
nutrigenomics and take advantage of berries as sources of
phytonutrients to stem the global epidemics of obesity and
FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR
There should be a strong emphasis on the interdisciplinary
cross-fertilization of berry research conducted in the basic and
clinical sciences to ultimately culminate in translational research
(from laboratory to bedside). It is also imperative that the
outcomes of these meetings be carefully and responsibly
communicated to the general and lay public.
Although considerable progress has been made in understand-
ing the role that berry phytochemicals play in affecting human
health and disease, there are still important gaps in our
knowledge concerning the biology and chemistry of these
compounds. Future studies should be designed to enhance our
knowledge of the intricate roles and functions that berry
phytochemicals impart at the cellular and molecular levels. In
addition, as research into the potential health benefits of berries
continue in a postgenomic era, it will bring ever-increasing
demands to observe and characterize variations within biological
systems. Research focus on nutrigenomics (effects of nutrients
on the genome, proteome, and metabolome) and nutrigenetics
(effects of genetic variation on the interaction between diet and
disease) will be essential. Future studies on the metabolomics
of berry phenolics are necessary, and there should be renewed
focus on evaluating whether metabolites formed in vivo
accumulate within target tissues and exert biological effects
therein. For example, it may be possible that on ingestion,
metabolites including glucuronidated, sulfated, and methylated
derivatives may act as “pro-drugs” within target tissue sites. In
addition, the products formed from the action of colonic
microflora on berry phenolics may also significantly contribute
to health benefits that may result from berry consumption.
Studies should also be conducted to evaluate whether the
biological effects of berry phytochemicals are enhanced by the
complex interactions of multiple components within the food
matrix of a particular fruit compared to a single purified
constituent or constituents. In addition, whether health benefits
of berry fruits are enhanced through additive and/or synergistic
interactions with phytochemicals from other foods should be
examined. Finally, future berry research should also focus on
studying gene-nutrient interactions and health outcomes to
achieve individual dietary intervention strategies aimed at
preventing chronic human diseases, improving quality of life,
and promoting healthy aging.
(1) Seeram, N. P. Bioactive polyphenols from foods and dietary
supplements: challenges and opportunities. In Herbs: Challenges
in Chemistry and Biology; ACS Symposium Series 925 (Herbs);
Ho, C. T., Wang, M., Sang, S., Eds.; Oxford University Press:
New York, 2006; Chapter 3, pp 25-38.
(2) Seeram, N. P.; Zhang, Y.; Nair, M. G. Inhibition of proliferation
of human cancer cell lines and cyclooxygenase enzymes by
anthocyanidins and catechins. Nutr. Cancer 2003, 46, 101–106.
(3) Seeram, N. P.; Nair, M. G. Inhibition of lipid peroxidation and
structure-activity-related studies of the dietary constituents, an-
thocyanins, anthocyanidins and catechins. J. Agric. Food Chem.
2002, 50, 5308–5312.
(4) Seeram, N. P.; Momin, R. A.; Bourquin, L. D.; Nair, M. G.
Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides
from cherries and berries. Phytomedicine 2001, 8, 362–369.
(5) Ferreira, D.; Gross, G. G.; Kolodziej, H.; Yoshida, T. Tannins
and related polyphenols: fascinating natural products with diverse
implications for biological systems ecology, industrial applications
and health protection. Phytochemistry 2005, 66, 1969–1971.
(6) Howell, A. B. Bioactive compounds in cranberries and their role
in prevention of urinary tract infections. Mol. Nutr. Food Res.
2007, 51, 732–737.
(7) Shukitt-Hale, B.; Carey, A. N.; Jenkins, D.; Rabin, B. M.; Joseph,
J. A. Beneficial effects of fruit extracts on neuronal function and
behavior in a rodent model of accelerated aging. Neurobiol. Aging
2007, 28, 1187–1194.
(8) Andres-Lacueva, C.; Shukitt-Hale, B.; Galli, R. L.; Jauregui, O.;
Lamuela-Raventos, R. M.; Joseph, J. A. Anthocyanins in aged
blueberry-fed rats are found centrally and may enhance memory.
Nutr. Neurosci. 2005, 8, 111–120.
(9) Seeram, N. P.; Heber, D. Impact of berry phytochemicals on
human health: Effects beyond antioxidation. In Lipid Oxidation
and Antioxidants: Chemistry, Methodologies and Health Effects;
ACS Symposium Series 956; Ho, C. T., Shahidi, F. S., Eds.;
Oxford University Press: New York, 2006; Chapter 21.
(10) Seeram, N. P. Berries. In Nutritional Oncology, 2nd ed.; Heber,
D., Blackburn, G., Go, V. L. W., Milner, J., Eds.; Academic Press:
London, U.K., 2006; Chapter 37, pp 615-625.
Received for review July 3, 2007. Accepted November 27, 2007.
SymposiumJ. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 56, No. 3, 2008