Knowledge: Blueberry (Cyanococcus)

Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Northern Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Blueberries is a pea-size berries growing on low-level bushes, produces green berries that turn into bluish or purple hue when ripe. Blueberries are present in many parts of world, including North America, Europe and Asia with cooler climate and the harvest period of blueberries falls between May to August of the year.

Blueberries have a sweet taste when mature, some comes with variable acidity. It goes bad very quickly upon harvest, so blueberries are commonly sold either fresh, or processed into individually quick frozen (IQF) fruit, puree, juice or dried or infused berries. These prolong the shelf life of the berries and offer wider application for consumer goods, such as to be made into condiments like jellies, pudding, jam, muffins, snack foods or as additive in breakfast cereals.

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Blueberries consist of:

  • 14% carbohydrates
  • 0.7% protein
  • 0.3% fat
  • 84% water

The major phytochemicals in blueberries are polyphenols, including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, other flavonoids, phenolic acids and stilbene derivatives.

Blueberries are rich in polyphenols and exhibit extremely high antioxidant capacity.

Blueberries are among the richest fruits in ascorbic acid. The content is usually in quite wide intervals, between 10–100 mg/100 g (depending on storage, longer storage time decreases the ascorbic acid concentration)

anthocyanins

ascorbic acid

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HEALTH BENEFITS

Decrease cardiovascular risk factors in obese individuals

Randomized single-blinded controlled trial
Subject Obese individuals (n = 48)
Group
  1. Control (4 cups of water daily)
  2. Blueberries supplementation
Duration 8 weeks
Dosage consumed freeze-dried blueberry beverage (50 g freeze-dried blueberries, approximately 350 g fresh blueberries)
Parameters analyzed Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • The decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures were greater in the blueberry-supplemented group (- 6 and – 4%, respectively) than in controls (- 1.5 and – 1.2%)
  • The decreases in plasma oxidized LDL and serum malondialdehyde and hydroxynonenal concentrations were greater in the blueberry group (- 28 and – 17%, respectively) than in the control group (-9 and -9%)

Table 1: Change in anthropometrics, blood pressure, and serum glucose and lipid concentrations in participants with metabolic syndrome after 8-week supplementations with freeze-dried blueberries or control treatment.

Table 2: Change in plasma biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in participants with metabolic syndrome after 8-wk supplementation with freeze-dried blueberries or control treatment.

***Biomarkers of lipid and lipoprotein oxidation such as MDA and ox-LDL levels are elevated in population with abdominal adiposity and metabolic syndrome and have also been associated with coronary artery disease.

In our 8-wk study, decreases in plasma ox-LDL and serum MDA and HNE levels were significantly greater in the blueberry-supplemented group than in controls.

Functions
  • Among all fruits, berries have shown substantial cardio-protective benefits due to their high polyphenol content
  • Blood pressure-lowering effects
  • Blueberries may improve selected features of metabolic syndrome and related cardiovascular risk factors at dietary achievable doses.

Increase antioxidant level in body

Single-blind crossover design
Subject Healthy individuals (n = 5)
Groups Day 1: Control supplementation (digestible carbohydrate) (dissolved in 500 mL of water) + high fat meal (853 calories)

Day 7: Blueberry extract supplementation + high fat meal (853 calories)

Duration 7 days
Dosage 100 g freeze-dried blueberries extract (containing 1.20g of total anthocyanins)
Parameters analyzed Blood sample analysis & Serum lipid-soluble antioxidant status
Outcomes Visible benefits

Before consumption of blueberries = no anthocyanin is detected in the blood

After consumption of blueberries = contained most of the 25 anthocyanins (3-galactoside, delphinidin 3-arabinoside, cyanidin 3-glucoside, petunidin 3-galactoside, cyanidin 3-arabinoside, petunidin 3-glucoside, peonidin 3-arabinoside, malvidin 3-galactoside, and malvidin 3-glucoside) in blood serum.

Figure 1: Chromatograms of blood serum extracts for a human subject before (A) and 1 hour (B) and 3 hours (C) after blueberry extract ingestion. (D) shows the peak identities of different anthocyanins.

The blueberry treatment appeared to prevent a mean decrease in serum antioxidant capacity as experienced in control group.

Table 3: Percent change in serum antioxidant capacity and triacylglycerol over time. ORAC = oxygen radical absorbance capacity

  • An increase from baseline in the serum antioxidant capacity following consumption of blueberry = suggests that the postprandial antioxidant status is correlated with serum anthocyanin content
  • Anthocyanins comprise the highest concentration of all phenolic subgroups in the blueberry = it is responsible for antioxidant properties of blueberries
Functions
  • The antioxidant properties of anthocyanins have been validated using other systems of oxidation such as their ability to prevent low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation in vitro.
  • Studies shown that the in vitro antioxidant properties of blueberries are mainly a result of high concentration of anthocyanins.

Improves memory in older adults

Subject Older adults (n = 9)
Group
  1. Placebo juice
  2. Grape juice
  3. Blueberry juice
Duration 12 weeks
Dosage
Parameters analyzed memory performances
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • At 12 weeks, we observed improved paired associate learning (p = 0.009) and word list recall (p = 0.04).
  • In addition, there were trends suggesting reduced depressive symptoms (p = 0.08) and lower glucose levels (p = 0.10).
  • We also compared the memory performances of the blueberry subjects with a demographically-matched sample who consumed a berry placebo beverage in a companion trial of identical design and observed comparable results for paired associate learning.

Figure 1: Memory performances for the blueberry juice sample at 12-week final visit.

V-PAL = verbal paired associate learning test
CVLT = California verbal learning test

Functions
  • suggest that moderate-term blueberry supplementation can confer neurocognitive benefit and establish a basis for more comprehensive human trials to study preventive potential and neuronal mechanisms.
  • anthocyanins have been associated with increased neuronal signaling in brain centers mediating memory function as well as improved glucose disposal, benefits that would be expected to mitigate neurodegeneration.

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