12 January - 20 June 2016

Some health benefits of berries may not make it past your mouth

6 Feb 13

Research has suggested that compounds that give colourful fruits their rich hues, especially berries, promote health and might even prevent cancer.  But for the first time, scientists have exposed extracts from numerous berries high in those pigments to human saliva to see just what kinds of health-promoting substances are likely to survive or to be modified in the mouth.  The main findings of the current research from Ohio State University published in Food Chemistry relate to a class of pigments called anthocyanins, which appears susceptible to saliva (or rather to bacteria that are commonly found in saliva).  This pigment class has been linked to various health benefits.  Anthocyanins vary between different fruits.  For the study, the researchers exposed extracts of anthocyanin pigments from blueberries, chokeberries, black raspberries, red grapes and strawberries to the saliva collected from 14 people.  The five fruits selected for study allowed the scientists to test the six distinct families of the anthocyanin pigments.  Researchers purified the anthocyanins from each berry type and added the extracts to the saliva.  The extent of the pigment degradation in saliva was linked to different types of anthocyanin, relating to the different chemical structures.  This means that some anthocyanins in fruits survive chewing in the mouth better than others.  Two families of anthocyanins consistently degraded when exposed to saliva: delphinidin and petunidin.  Four other families were more stable:  cyanidin, pelargonidin, peonidin and malvidin. This research group is continuing the work, examining which bacteria are most involved in the metabolism of anthocyanins and testing the stability of the pigments in berry juices in the mouths of human volunteers rather than in test tubes containing their saliva.

RSSL’s Functional Ingredients Laboratory can offer anthocyanin analysis by colorimetric methods or HPLC in a range of foods and beverages. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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