Berries are nutrient-rich fruits known to have health-promoting benefits related to their high levels of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. A new article provides a comprehensive review of recent in vitro and in vivo studies that focus on the diverse range of berry phytochemicals and their associated biological effects and mechanisms of action. Berry fruits are popular and widely consumed in the diet, and some, like strawberries, are recognized as functional foods.
Specifically, strawberries are noted by the authors as the richest source of vitamin C among berry fruits, and for their high concentration of anthocyanins, associated with a lower risk for certain cancers, improved memory and normal aging; and ellagic acid, a phenolic compound reported to have antiviral, antimicrobial and antioxidant activity as well as to provide protection against certain cancers. Strawberries are also an example of an ellagitannin-rich fruit, which may contribute to its unique biological effects in neuronal function and behavior as reported in animal models.
The authors conclude that a number of studies—both human and animal—support the positive role of berry fruits in human health, offering potential for protection against various diseases and from the damaging effects of free radicals based on specific biological activities, including anticancer, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.
Nile SH, Park SW, Edible berries: Review on bioactive components and their effect on human health, Nutrition (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2013.04.007