For the second year in a row, members of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s (USHBC) health research committee and a group of scientists from universities and institutions around the globe met in a private symposium to discuss scientific research on the potential health benefits of blueberries.
The primary topic of discussion was the potential benefits of blueberries on the human gut microbiome and the types of studies that the USHBC Health Research Committee should fund in order to successfully explore this topic. The event took place on April 19-21, 2016 in Silverton, Ore. and culminated in a farm tour of Riverbend Organic Farm in Jefferson, Ore.
Over the past 15 years, the USHBC has built a robust health research program, uncovering mounting evidence that bolsters the case for blueberries’ potential health benefits. In recent years, the program strategically focused on areas of cardiovascular health, cancer, insulin response and brain health. Most recently, preliminary research findings from a multiyear human study were presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The study explored the effects of blueberries on memory and cognitive function in older adults.
As the ‘health halo’ around blueberries continues to grow, so do purchases. Recent survey data revealed that Americans are nearly twice as likely as they were nine years ago to buy blueberries in the coming year. The data showed that consumers associate blueberries with health and awareness of the fruit’s nutritional benefits is closely tied to propensity to purchase. The data also found that 99 percent of consumers believe blueberries to be a healthy food and 84 percent state awareness of specific health benefits, a 115 percent increase over 2004.
“The blueberry industry has dedicated significant resources to health research in recent years,” said Mark Villata, executive director of USHBC. “The investment has helped position blueberries as a fruit with many potential health benefits – all based on sound scientific research. And with much larger human studies underway, we stand to learn a great deal more.”
To access published blueberry health research and resources for health professionals, please visit: http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/healthresearch.