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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 715: VIII International Symposium on Vaccinium Culture

VACCINIUM BERRY CROPS AND HUMAN HEALTH

Author:   W. Kalt
Keywords:   polyphenolics, flavonoids, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotection
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2006.715.82
Abstract:
Commercial Vaccinium berry crops contain abundant polyphenolic components which are being investigated in relation to their human health benefits. Research conducted in vitro (i.e., “in the test tube”) has demonstrated that polyphenolic flavonoids, like those contained in Vaccinium fruit, possess anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and other bioactivities that may be beneficial to health. Studies conducted in vitro provide useful information regarding the effects of specific flavonoids in well-defined single cell or cell-free systems. However more convincing evidence can be obtained from animal (i.e. in vivo, “in the living system”) studies, since positive effects obtained from in vivo studies demonstrate that dietary flavonoids are available to the body in concentrations sufficient to affect physiological parameters. Studies conducted with animals have demonstrated that blueberries can provide protection to the brain from stress and damage imposed by neurodegenerative disease, stroke, or aging. These protective effects are likely due to both the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of blueberry flavonoids. A preponderance of evidence indicates that cranberries can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in susceptible human populations. Although the levels of flavonoids in Vaccinium fruits are affected by various production and processing factors, phenotype appears to be the most important factor influencing flavonoid content.

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