Berries have long been known for their substantial health benefits, and many berry commodity boards have supported and publicized research that confirms their nutritional value. Here"s a summary of three of the latest studies.
The Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission says research unveiled in June at the American Diabetes Association"s 75th Scientific Sessions in Boston looked at the association of eating strawberries and the risk of developing diabetes.
Harvard University researchers from Brigham and Women"s Hospital examined data from the Women"s Health Study, which included more than 37,000 nondiabetic middle-aged women.
The study followed the women more than 14 years and found more than 2,900 of the women developed diabetes. Compared to women who rarely or never ate strawberries, those who ate strawberries at least once month had a lower risk for developing diabetes.
Harvard researcher Howard Sesso, who presented the results, said, "The general findings in this study are that eating even a modest amount of strawberries on a weekly basis can decrease the risk of developing diabetes."
A study reported by the Folsom, Calif.-based U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council that was conducted by Arpita Basu and others out of Oklahoma State University, looked at 48 obese subjects with metabolic syndrome including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, obesity and high blood lipid levels. Those who consumed a blueberry beverage over an eight-week period experienced a decrease in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to those who consumed a placebo beverage.
During the study, participants maintained their usual diets and physical activity patterns, but were asked to avoid consuming ﬂavonoid-rich foods such as any other berries, green tea, cocoa and soy.
"The results warrant further investigation and provide some evidence for including blueberries as part of healthy dietary practices," the authors concluded.
A study funded by Middleboro, Mass.-based Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. and co-authored by Amy Howell, associate research scientist at Rutgers University, looked at the effects of low-sugar cranberry juice versus sugar-added cranberry juice for urinary tract infections. The study showed that they work equally well.
"In the study, we found that urine following consumption of either low calorie cranberry juice drink or a proanthocyanidin-rich cranberry extract beverage prevented pathogenic bacterial adhesion to bladder cell receptors," Howell said.
Inhibiting bacterial adhesion, which, she said, is the first step in the infection process, may help to prevent urinary tract infections. Her conclusion: "Acute beverage consumption of cranberry extract and/or juice provides ex vivo anti-adhesion activity, which may help to improve urinary tract health."
Howell will be keynote speaker at the Berry Health Benefit Symposium on Oct. 13-15 in Madison, Wis.