Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wham: Great Things from the Color of Berries

Scandinavian researchers have found that compounds behind the reds and blues of berries and fruit, whether from food sources like blueberries or supplementation, may protect against the ravages of inflammation.

Norwegian scientists, writing in the August 2007 edition of the Journal of Nutrition, have found that increased intake of anthocyanins, the phytochemical behind these colors, can lead to reductions in inflammation. The chemicals are actually responsible for mediating a transcription factor which could be behind inflammation in a wide variety of diseases.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to type-2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and perhaps even Alzheimer's disease.

A parallel-designed, placebo-controlled clinical trial was run by this team, involving 120 men and women with an average age of 61. Researchers assigned them to receive the anthocyanin supplements or placebo (simple maltodextrin mixed with blue coloring). The dosage was 300 mg. a day of an anthocyanins supplement (derived from bilberry, or "bog blueberries"), and the goal was to see a reduction in inflammation responses.

Anthocyanin supplementation showed 38 to 60 per cent decreases from baseline, compared to four and six per cent decreases in the placebo group. Research will continue in Oslo and other locations around the world as scientists struggle to determine the mechanisms by which anthocyanins inhibit NF-kB activation.

This research, and future work on anthocyanins, may translate to anthocyanins being found more frequently in supplements. Unfortunately, Chinese and South Asian imports have been found to contain black bean skins meant to replace quality anthocyanins with a similar color.

As in all supplement products, stick with major brand names and quality vendors. Better yet, buy the brands that are sold through your doctor or holistic healthcare practitioner.


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