VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Antioxidants have been the subject of intense research since the 19th century. However, the motivation behind studies of antioxidants is much different today compared to 100 years ago.
Early studies looked at how antioxidants played a part in the industrial process. Today, the focus on antioxidants is almost exclusively geared toward health and nutrition, including recent Vanderbilt University and Tufts University studies showing strong antioxidant chemicals called phenolics from dark berries have major beneficial effects in the brains of rats, a model for human Alzheimer's disease.
Antioxidant phenolics are chemical compounds naturally found as pigments of plants, giving fruits and vegetables their bright colors. Numerous laboratory studies have concluded that having antioxidant-rich foods in the diet, like berry phenolics, can play a major role in reducing the risk for developing age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s.
“The group of antioxidants found in colorful fruits, vegetables and juices are pigments called phenolics that give plants their bright colors. There are thousands of phenolics in the plant kingdom and there would be dozens in just one plant fruit like a blueberry which contains many kinds of different phenolics,” said Dr. Paul Gross, an expert on antioxidant compounds, founding member of the International Berry Health Association, and publisher of a new portal on the web for information on berry antioxidants and nutrients, http://berrydoctor.com.
Berry phenolics are something researchers have examined closely in recent years, and there is considerable evidence showing their benefits. Dark-skinned berries like the blueberry, cranberry and other “dark” berries have been singled out as powerful antioxidants by the United States Department of Agriculture. A 2004 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry stated that the wild blueberry and cranberry have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants per serving when compared to 20 other common fruits found in our grocery stores.
As early as 1999, the USDA was putting forth evidence that “getting plenty of the foods with a high-antioxidant activity, such as spinach, strawberries and blueberries,” may help slow the aging process and protect the brain from neurodegeneration and dementia.
In November this year, a new berry antioxidant star was revealed in published research – the Brazilian açaí (pronounced “ah-sigh-ee”), having more than 10 times the antioxidant strength of blueberries. Açaí, a dark purple berry of the palm tree, is already known widely for its dense phenolic pigmentation so strong that its juice stains nearly everything it touches.
As food science and medical research race to keep up with the explosion of public interest for having antioxidant-rich foods in our diets, a credible reference source is needed as a foundation for educating the public about health-giving plant food chemicals like phenolics.
That is the why Dr. Gross created The Berry Doctor's Journal accessed via http://berrydoctor.com – a web beacon for free weekly news on emerging berry science and nutrition.