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News / April 12, 2013

Berries spill their sweet health secrets

by Guy Hiscott

Scientists are taking a close look at the role saliva plays in the health benefits of eating berries, the tiny champions of the ‘superfood’ world.
It has long been suggested that the pigments responsible for giving berries their rich hues are responsible for promoting health. But research is now underway to discover whether it’s the pigments themselves or the compounds produced when they are broken down in the mouth that actually promote health.
A particular group of pigments, called anthocyanins, are more susceptible than others to degradation in the mouth. Yet fruits high in anthocyanins, such as blueberries and black raspberries, have been linked with particular health benefits.
Mark Failla, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State and interim chair of the Department of Human Sciences, said: ‘An understanding of the metabolism of these compounds is needed to make scientifically sound dietary recommendations and to develop effective delivery vehicles for the mouth.’