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By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor | 06/04/2009
As new research is introduced on the goodness of blueberries, their popularity continues to grow. Formats to meet a variety of formulation needs include: fresh, frozen, dehydrated, freeze-dried, preserved, canned, concentrate, juice and powder.
When EnWave Corp. (www.enwave.net), Vancouver, British Columbia, developed a novel food dehydration technology using microwave energy, it chose blueberries as its first application, in large part because of their nutrient values. Since they remove or at least reduce the amount of water in the berry, all the drying technologies concentrate the anthocyanins and other antioxidants. “Our NutraREV process can produce dried fruits with a wide variety of moisture contents and puffing,” says Jennifer Thompson, vice president of corporate development. And it does so more efficiently than freeze-drying.
“Blueberries are used in hundreds of products, and the industry has experienced explosive growth in the export markets, where new products continue to proliferate,” says Tom Payne, industry specialist for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsum, Calif. Some of these product ideas are finding their way back to the U.S. and are stimfulating new product development in North America. And because they add value and are in consumer demand, blueberries are showing up in many specialty food products.
Radiant red raspberries
Red raspberries rank in the top 10 antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and they provide important anti-inflammatories, including anthocyanins (the pigments in red, purple and blue fruits), which may help reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, macular degeneration and improve memory.
With only 70 calories, one serving (1 cup) provides 50 percent of a day’s requirement for vitamin C, fiber (32 percent), folate (6 percent), magnesium (6 percent), potassium (5 percent) and calcium, niacin, B6, phosphorus (4 percent each) and zinc.
“Long before the public became aware of the value of high-antioxidant foods, red raspberries were a favorite ingredient in functional foods and beverages such as yogurts, ice creams, juices, teas and other beverages,” says Andrew Carter, in quality control, at Gardena, Calif.-based NP Nutra, which specializes in the manufacture of red raspberry powder extracts such as Red Raspberry 20% Ellagic Acid and Red Raspberry Leaf P.E. 10:1.
“Red raspberries tend to score around 5,000 ORAC units per 100g, which make them one of the highest North American berries, and the high contents of ellagic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, anthocyanins and cyanidins contribute to the excellent antioxidant activity of red raspberries,” he says, adding, “Since red raspberries taste great and are also high in fatty acids, fiber, iron, manganese, pectin, selenium and vitamin E, their uses as a functional ingredient are virtually unlimited.”
One of the most exciting developments is that red raspberries, especially the seeds, may become important in the booming cosmeceuticals market (skin care products with health benefits), according to the Washington Red Raspberry Commission, Lynden, Wash. The oil in raspberry seeds is rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids and has a natural SPF (sun protection factor) of 25 to 50.
Out of the bog
Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of fiber, which reduces levels of LDL cholesterol levels, is fairly high in vitamin A and has antioxidant phytonutrients that promote heart health.
Although most of us associate cranberries with Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, cranberries lend their potent antioxidants to all kinds of year-round foods. One serving (1 cup) is an excellent source of vitamin C (sailors ate them to fend off scurvy), a good source of fiber, which reduces levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, is fairly high in vitamin A and has antioxidant phytonutrients that promote heart health.
“The cranberry’s complex mixtures of polyphenols, such as quercetin, and unique tannins suggest that it is capable of delivering a wide range of health benefits and a variety of different functional activities,” says Christina Khoo, research sciences manager at Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., Lakeville-Middleboro, Mass. “Much of the research up until a few years ago focused on the cranberry’s role in preventing urinary tract infections, but emerging research suggests the fruit also has health potential throughout the body, including cardiovascular, cellular, oral and gastrointestinal health.
“These whole body benefits are made possible by the fruit’s complex make-up,” Khoo continues. “Unique A-linked compounds called proanthocyanidins prevent bacteria from adhering to cell walls and removing the potential to cause infection, while the high antioxidant content helps fight free-radicals that can damage cells throughout the body. Cranberries also have a rich combination of other nutrients, such as fiber and vitamin C, giving them these multidimensional health benefits.”
Blackberries always chic
Blackberries are a top fruit source of fiber, an excellent source of vitamin C and are jam-packed with antioxidant phytonutrients that help promote heart health. Harvard and University of North Carolina researchers found that for each 10g of fruit fiber eaten per day (blackberries provide 7g), you may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease death by 30 percent.