Pismo Beach, CA
March 28-30, 2017
Spending three days with 30 world renowned berry health researchers is a life-changing experience at the very least! We learned a vast array of facts concerning the process of discovery of the health benefits of blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, red raspberries, black raspberries, currents, and grapes.
Here are our top five takeaways from this symposium:
- All berries are now known to be functional foods. What does that mean to us as growers and consumers? Berries help the systems of the bodyguard against inflammation at the most basic level of cell physiology. What makes this important? Inflammation is the precursor to every degenerative disease we deal with as we age.
- The functional areas of health research in berries are vastly diverse and far reaching. The list includes:
• Cardiovascular health
• Brain health and cognition
• Immune function
• Gut microbiota health
• Renal health
• Bone health
• Anti-obesity and glucoregulatory health
• Metabolic Syndrome
• Various cancers (bladder, breast, stomach, Esophageal, and colon)
When you look at this list it is obvious that we should all be eating at least one cup per day of the berries listed above. Not all berries are equal in their active compound structures. However, what each of these health researchers will tell you is to eat all berries and eat the whole berry. That’s right, eat all the berries at the same time or separately, but make certain you get some of each berry on a regular basis.
- We were stunned by the results of a recent USDA food survey (2007-2012) that revealed Americans, on average, consume approximately 1 cup of fruit/day. This is also taking into consideration fruit contained in muffins, cereals, yogurts, etc. Less than half of that cup per day is berries. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 2 cups/day of fruit. We have our work cut out for us in raising the daily fruit intake through our value-added snack foods/ingredients innovation and production!
- A very large percentage of the current and past berry health research is being done using freeze-dried whole berry powders. Four researchers spoke with us about TCF and encouraged us to become part of the solution to increasing consumer’s daily food choices of this proven healthy functional food: FD berries. These researchers clearly see that the founding mission of TCF is exactly what their research in the health benefits of berries is proving. These are important functional foods that should be the snacks/foods/ingredients of choice on a daily basis to boost berry consumption and the beneficial effects they achieve in the body systems.
- There is a glaring and urgent need for many additional clinical trials in the berry category. Clinical trials include real people eating whole berries in either fresh, frozen, juice or freeze-dried form. There is still much discovery to be achieved concerning the many ways and means that these healthy fruits interact with our body’s systems at a sub-cellular level and change cell physiology as well as the gut microbiota makeup and environment.