New research steps beyond ORAC

New research steps beyond ORAC

Study signals a significant and important step beyond simply testing extracts' antioxidant activity.

We are advised to eat ample fruits and vegetables because population studies show that higher consumption of these foods is associated with fewer occurrences of cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration. Investigations into the possible chemistry behind this knowledge have focused on phenolic compounds and their antioxidant activities. This has led to the incorrect assumption that health benefits are necessarily derived from direct antioxidant activity and that the higher the antioxidant (ORAC) value, the better the food is for you.

This short communication reports on the bioactivity of a cranberry and blueberry extract and a strawberry, blueberry, and spinach extract provided by AHPA member Pure Encapsulations. The first extract was tested in an in vitro anti-inflammatory assay, and he second in an assay used to measure the inhibition of an enzyme that degrades neuropeptides. This may be significant because inhibitors of that enzyme (prolyl endopeptidase or PEP) have been shown to improve neurocognitive performance in clinical trials.

The research showed that both of these food-mixture-complex extracts were active in their respective bioassays, though their concentration of constituent phenolics were low relative to phytochemical isolates that are often subjected to scientific study. This research doesn't offer a comparison of activity with purified isolates but is valuable in having demonstrated anti-inflammatory and neuroactive activities that may be relevant for humans. It is a significant and important step beyond simply testing for antioxidant activity.

Journal of Medicinal Food
August 27, 2012
“Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroactive Properties of Selected Fruit Extracts”

Epidemiological evidence supports inverse associations between fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration. Dietary botanicals with salient health benefits include berries and leafy vegetables. Molecular pharmacology research has ascribed these benefits primarily to phenolic constituents and antioxidant activity. The current investigation sought to eluicidate pharmacologic activity of two novel preparations of berry and spinach extracts in vitro. Blueberry and cranberry exhibited the greatest antioxidant activity. In a dose-dependent manner, a proprietary mixture of cranberry and blueberry extracts inhibited inhibitor of κB kinase β, a central node in inflammatory signal transduction. A proprietary mixture of blueberry, strawberry, and spinach extracts inhibited prolyl endopeptidase, a regulator of central neuropeptide stability and an emerging therapeutic target in neurology and psychiatry. These results indicate specific molecular targets of blended dietary plants with potential relevance to inflammation and neurological health.


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