Berries Highly Beneficial for Human Health

Berry fruits contain chemical compounds that are found to be beneficial for your health. When consumed, these compounds act as natural antioxidants and prevent cell injury. They also improve energy and human performance. By their possible action on genetic material, they seem to reduce degeneration and promote healthy aging. However, more knowledge needs to be gathered before these natural agents assume a clinical role in the prevention of human diseases. Periodic symposiums could bring international experts together to exchange ideas, which could be useful in enhancing our understanding of the health benefits of berry fruit consumption.

Berries, which are commercially cultivated and consumed in North America, include blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries. Other berry fruits often consumed include varieties like chokecherries, serviceberries, and silver buffalo berries. People also consume imported “berry-type” fruit like pomegranate, goji berries, mangosteen, the Brazilian açaí berry, and the Chilean maqui berry. It is increasingly known that berry fruits improve human health and modify diseases including cardiac diseases and cancer. The International Berry Health Benefits Symposium was started in 2005 for documenting scientific research related to berry consumption and human health. The information in this article is related to the 2007 symposium.


  • The symposium’s first session was on “Anthocyanins and Health.” Here, effects of these berry compounds on gene regulation and their antioxidant properties were discussed.
  • The second session discussed research that investigated the health effects of berry consumption in subjects at risk for cardiovascular disease; while the third session discussed the regulation of fat cell function in relation to berry anthocyanins and their potential for preventing the metabolic syndrome of obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
  • The fourth session discussed advantages of berry fruit consumption in cancers of the stomach and intestines; whereas the fifth session discussed effects of berry fruits consumed traditionally by indigenous people on human performance and aging.
  • The sixth session was devoted to changes that occur when berry fruits are processed for consumption; and the final session discussed the phenolic compounds found in berries.
  • Key findings

  • Chemicals in berries include flavonoids, like anthocyanins, tannins, stilbenoids, and phenolic acids. Rather than a single chemical alone, the complementary actions of all compounds seem to produce their biological effects, which range from antioxidant properties, which prevent cell injury, to gene regulation, a process important in fighting diseases like cancer.
  • Berry fruit consumption has a positive impact on human health including diseases of heart, vascular system and some cancers.
  • Berry fruits also affect the aging process and degeneration of the nervous system.
  • Processing of berries changes their structure and might affect their biological activity.
  • Next steps
    Although the positive role and benefits of chemicals found in berry fruits are known, many things still need to be established. What happens at a cellular level that is responsible for the actions of berry fruits after consumption is yet to be determined. After intake, the chemicals in berries undergo digestion and interact with bacteria residing in human intestines. Whether this modifies the beneficial properties of berry fruits is not investigated as yet. People have different genetic compositions and whether these compounds are equally beneficial to all people is also yet to be understood. Further research in these directions would help in formulating correct recommendations about berries as disease modifying agents.

    There are different varieties of berry fruits available commercially, picked from the wild, or imported from other countries. Consumption of many berries seems to be beneficial for human health. Consumption of some berries modifies diseases and improves human performance. These are the findings of experts that participated in the 2007 conference: International Berry Health Benefits Symposium. Several findings of the research going on in this field at various places were presented at the symposium and the need for future research in specific areas was discussed. It was also felt that a platform such as this symposium is needed to continuously publicize the information to the scientific community as well as the general public.

    For More Information:
    Eating Berry Fruits Impacts Health, Performance, and Disease
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008
    By  Navindra P. Seeram
    From the Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California

    *FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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