|ELKS, CARRIE - Pennington Biomedical Research Center|
|FRANCIS, JOSEPH - Louisana State University|
|STULL, APRIL - Pennington Biomedical Research Center|
|CEFALU, WILLIAM - Pennington Biomedical Research Center|
|INGRAM, DONALD - Pennington Biomedical Research Center|
Submitted to: Bioactives in Fruit: Health Benefits and Functional Food
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2013
Publication Date: 9/20/2013
Citation: Elks, C.M., Francis, J., Stull, A.J., Cefalu, W.T., Shukitt Hale, B., Ingram, D.K. 2013. Overview of the health properties of blueberries. In: Skinner, M and Hunter D. editors. Bioactives in Fruit: Health Benefits and Functional Food. Hoboken, NJ. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 251-271.
Technical Abstract: The blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) is one of the few fruits that is native to eastern North America, but have recently gained popularity as a food in other countries. As evidence of the increased interest in this fruit, North American blueberry production has undergone a growth of greater than 300 percent since 1970, while world blueberry production has undergone a growth of over 600 percent over the same time period. Both wild (lowbush) and cultivated (highbush) blueberries (and related species) contain a variety of bioactive compounds with putative roles in health promotion. The bioactives in blueberries have been demonstrated to reduce free radical damage, attenuate cancer cell growth, provide neuroprotection, decrease cardiovascular disease risk, and improve symptoms of the metabolic syndrome. Recently, we have demonstrated beneficial effects of a blueberry-enriched diet on insulin sensitivity in a clinical trial and are currently conducting a trial in hypertensive subjects. In recent studies of hypertension-induced renal damage in a well-established rodent model, we observed marked protection against the pathogenesis of the disease in rats fed a blueberry-supplemented diet. Research continues to support the potential health benefits and advantages of consuming blueberries, but more clinical trials are needed to demonstrate additional efficacy in preventing or treating other diseases and impaired health and function. This chapter will address the nutrient and non-nutritive composition of the blueberry, its bioactive components, and the body of research examining how blueberries confer their positive health effects.