Sponsored By

Formulating with BerriesFormulating with Berries

June 22, 2009

15 Min Read
Formulating with Berries

Summer is here and its time to enjoy lying by the pool and snacking on favorite summer treats. Berries are one summer pleasure that are healthy and tasty. And with the many ways berries can be used in product formulations, they can be enjoyed year-round. Judging by consumer interest, these small fruits are just as popular in January as they are in July.

At Lalilab we believe the colored berries are attractive to consumers for a number of good reasons, said Michel Baudet, president and CEO, Lalilab Inc. The various flavors can be consumed everywhere and they can be added to a number of different dishes.

Not only are berries flexible and tasty, they are healthy. We consider berries common sense nutritionour parents and grandparents knew berries were good for you, said Leslie J. Gallo, marketing and operations manager, Artemis International Inc. This intrinsic awareness about the goodness of berries, combined with the recent increase in the quantity and quality of science surrounding berries, has opened our minds to look at the potential of berries to help with what ails us.

Berries are good for us, but its not necessary to rely on grandmas advice. Research during the last few decades has shown the health benefits. Consumer education has increased dramatically in recent times and they are aware that purpled berries provide the best healthy aging solution available, said Annie Eng, president, HP Ingredients. Awareness related to anti-inflammatory, free radical protection and immune system support are the primary health benefits familiar to consumers. Additional research and consumer feedback has shown the antioxidant benefits related to inflammation support the effects of arthritis, autism, healthy blood sugar and healthy skin.

Berries contain a reddish purple pigment from a class of flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins, which are responsible for many health benefits and are known for its antioxidant properties. Anthocycanins are produced by plants for self-protection against sun, irradiation, diseases and biological enemies. When humans ingest anthocycanins, they may be able to experience the same benefits. Anthocyanins are probably the most important group of plant pigments and are well-known antioxidants that help support good health in many ways, said Massood Moshrefi, Ph.D., vice president, operations and technical services, InterHealth Nutraceuticals.

Berries are known for other health properties as well. For instance, they are a great source of polyphenols, photochemicals, vitamins, amino acids, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and tannins. Studies have shown berries are high in antioxidants as shown by ORAC.1 Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals which are unstable molecules linked to the development of a number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimers disease, said Tom Payne, Industry Specialist for the U. S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

With all the health benefits, its no wonder berry products are blooming all over grocery store shelves. Berries are in cereals, bars, frozen novelties, dairy products, dressings and marinades. They are particularly well represented in beverages. Functional beverages are becoming more mainstream as consumer interest in functional drinks increase, Moshrefi noted. Drinks that are already associated with good health and dairy and fruit smoothies should be very successful. Dean Mosca, president, Proprietary Nutritionals Inc., added, It makes total sense to drink a berry beverage. Weve been drinking berry-flavored beverages for decades. There is no learning curve or hesitancy to guzzle a true berry-powered functional beverage.

Powder sticks with berry ingredients that are added to beverages are also popular. Weve seen more interest in powder stick technology recently due its ease and convenience, commented Brian Stagg, new business development-North America, Diana Naturals.

Berries are also showing up in more cosmetic applications. We are seeing tremendous interest in a next generation of anti-aging creams for face and body that feature the rich antioxidant capabilities of berries, said Matt Phillips, president, Cyvex Nutrition. Keeping in mind that for decades berry flavors and scents have been in a tremendous array of productsfoods and body caremuch of the groundwork for consumer acceptance is already paved.

Phillips added animal nutrition has also benefited from the berry boom. The natural pet food industry is using more human nutraceuticals, such as berry ingredients. As more pet owners can attest, Whats good for the guardian is good for the companion animal.

And of course, berry dietary supplements are common. Within the supplement market, berries are most often delivered in a capsule or tablet targeting a function. Elderberry, for instance, is most often teamed with Echinacea or other herbs and minerals for immune support, Gallo said.

Breaking Down the Benefits

The reason berries are so popular, and have been for hundreds of years, is because they can offer exceptional health benefits. Take cranberries, for instance. Formal research into the health benefits of the cranberries began in 1984, said Kristen Girard, principal food scientist, Ocean Spray. Since then, a vast amount of scientific evidence has highlighted the superfruits medicinal capabilities. Some of those capabilities include an anti-adhesion effect to ward off H. pylori in the stomach linning,2 inhibiting viruses,3 promoting cardiovascular health,4 increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol5 and promoting oral health.6

Cranberries have long been used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and one University of British Columbia urologist found use of cranberry juice and tablets with increased fluid intake were more effective than fluids alone in preventing UTIs in women studied.7 Forty percent fewer women experienced UTIs when receiving cranberry products versus a placebo, and on average had half the number of UTIs in that study. Another study found cranberry (as juice or capsule) significantly reduced the rate of UTI in sexually active women.8 And a proprietary cranberry concentrate (Cran-Max®, from Proprietary Nutritionals) was comparable to the commonly prescribed antibiotic, trimethoprim, for the prevention of recurrent UTIs in older women.9

Dan Souza, director of sales and marketing, Decas Botanical Synergies LLC, said proanthocyanidins (PACs) are behind cranberries health properties. Cranberry PACs are unique in that they provide a bacterial anti-adhesion capability which help to support urinary tract health, gastrointestinal health and oral health, he said.

Blueberries are another berry with extensive research backing. Blueberries have been shown to increase cognitive performance,10 and may aid in the prevention of cancer and vascular diseases.11 Other studies have found blueberries help reduce cardiovascular disease,12 may be beneficial for athletes exercising in hot environments13 and reduce inflammation.14

Blueberry benefits have translated into sales. Because consumers look for new blueberry-containing foods, record numbers of blueberry products are now entering the market each month, Payne said. Last year, more than 1,300 blueberry-containing products were introduced worldwide. For food processors, this means 2009 could be the Year of the Blueberry. With annual blueberry production expected to exceed 800 million pounds in the next few years.

While grapes may not immediately come into mind when thinking about berries, Justin A. Gwaltney, sales associate, Lalilab Inc., noted grapes are true berries. Grapes are rich in many polyphenols including oligoprocyanidins (OPCs), flavonoids, tannins and anthocyanins, he said. These antioxidants distinguish grape extracts as a leader in free radical scavenging and yield very high ORAC values in excess of 20,000 TE/g. Grape extracts offer a wide range of health benefits. Clinicals on grape extracts have been positively linked to inhibiting cancer, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, viral infections, cardiovascular problems and mechanisms of Alzheimers disease. Indeed, a study has shown grapes extracts to inhibit atherosclerosis, a condition in which an artery wall thickens as the result of a build up of fatty materials such as cholesterol.15 Another study showed grape extracts ability to prevent hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy and increase production of reactive oxygen species by the aorta.16

Other berries are more exotic and fit into the superfruit category. Maqui berries are deeply purpled berries collected from the Patagonia region that stretches from Southern Chile to Antarctica and have been traditionally used by the Mapuche Indian for a variety of ailments such as sore throat, diarrhea, ulcers, hemorrhoids, birth delivery, fever and tumors. The fruit juice has an ORAC value of more than 800,000 mole TE/kg and anthocyanin value of 22,420 mg/kg. The relative hig-anthocyanin content and presence of polyglycosylated derivatives makes Maqui berries an interesting source of extracts for food and pharmaceutical uses, according to a study published in Phyochemical Analysis.17 Maqui also have almost four times the amount of antioxidants as strawberries and blackberries.18 Carlos Escalante, COO, Novelle International, said his company developed maqui supplement designed to manage blood sugar levels, support cardiovascular health and impact immune function.

Another berry with research in the immune field is elderberry, a species of berries that includes American elder, Chinese elder and Mexican elder. These berries have traditionally been used in wine, liqueurs and foods, and are native in temperate-to-subtropical regions. This high-antioxidant berrys health benefits include stress mediation,19 the ability to reduce the severity of flu and promote quicker recovery,20 and support heart health. They also aid in workouts, according to Gallo. You might not ever think of berries for athletic performance, but elderberry has performed exceptionally well in tests of delaying lactic acid production in athletes and keeping the body in a state of oxidative phosphorylation, thereby allowing for more efficient, longer, harder workouts, she said.

Two varieties of shrub-based berries are also gaining traction in the nutrition arena. The term chokeberries encompasses two species, red chokeberry and black chokeberry, native to eastern North America and commonly found in wet woods and swamps. Chokeberry extract (from Artemis) protected coronary arteries from oxidant injury,21 may protect against gastric diseases22 and possibly prevent development of pancreatitis.23

Bilberries are sourced from several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium. Bilberries are found in damp, acidic soils throughout the temperate and subartic regions of the world. Researches have concluded that chokeberry and bilberry extracts may be potential chemopreventive agents for colon cancer.24 Artemis BerryDefense, a mixture of elderberry, chokeberry and bilberry extracts, was shown in a pilot study to aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis disease.25 Sarah Viges, marketing manager, Charles Bowman and Company added bilberry benefits include eye health, treatment for varicose veins and cardiovascular health. However these benefits only come from the true thing. Many products claim to be from bilberry that are not, she said. With Bilberry, it is important to make sure you are getting your ingredients from a reputable source with proper test methods employed to insure purity of materials

Formulating Berries

The health benefits are there, but what makes these little fruits so nice to formulate is how uncomplicated they are for manufacturers. The characteristics of berry ingredients are generally easy to work with, Moshrefi said.

Jennifer Diliddo, sales/marketing, RFI Ingredients, added, Because berries have a good flavor, they can be added into everything, including functional foods, with little effect on flavor.

But that doesnt mean theyre problem free. Erin Gipe, R&D supervisor, Northwest Naturals, said keeping cost low when working with high-quality ingredients can be difficult.

Temperature is also a consideration. When working with anthocyanins you need to be careful about the temperatures at which you process your berries, noted Gallo. Sustained high heat above 180 degrees can cause degradation of the anthocyanins.

Diliddo added, Anthocyanins are unstable to high heat, so we are very careful during transportation, storage, production and processing with these products not to introduce high temperatures.

And because berries are farmed, challenges arise during harvesting. The most challenging part is to ensure product quality, consistency and sufficient supply from our farmers from season to season, said Andrew Carter, quality control, NP Nutra. As we transition almost all of our ingredients to certified organic, having ample year-round supply can be a tricky task.

Nuryati Pangestu, research scientist, WILD Flavors added, Quality products are very important for WILD Flavors, both within our organization and with our suppliers. This includes the quantity of supplies, especially when it comes to working with berries that can tend to have short or volatile growing seasons.

Many berry formulators will work with their customers to make sure the end products are exactly what theyre looking for. Diliddo said RFI is often asked to develop a complete solution for a specific product. Turn-key means we start from just the idea of the product and move all the way through to production and packaging, she said.

Stagg said Diana Naturals offers chef expertise. Diana Naturals has a whole formulation and applications laboratory to assist customers with their formulations, he said. This includes culinary chefs for food applications, beverage technicians and an analytical lab to test for actives in the finished product and to verify label claims.

Berries and Beyond

If the future of berry products is anything like its past, it should be bright and boundless. As science improves, the health benefits of berries will become clearer and society will be able to better understand the relationship between human health and botanical extracts, Gwaltney said. Gallo added, The future for berry ingredients is extremely bright. Where berries were historically only considered in the genre of herbal-naturopathic remedies, increasingly they are being recognized by the pharmaceutical community as viable complimentary and alternative therapies and we will see much more research being performed at the molecular level of berries to find out what makes them functional.

References on the next page...

References for "Formulating with Berries"


1. Wu X , et al. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 16;52(12):4026-37.

2. Burger O et. al. A High Molecular Mass Constituent Of Cranberry Juice Inhibits Helicobacter Pylori Adhesion To Human Gastric Mucus. Fems Immunology And Medical Microbiology 2000; 29:295-301.

3. Lipson S., et al. Antiviral Effects On Bacteriophages And Rotavirus By Cranberry Juice. Phytomedicine 2007; 14:23-30.

4. Ruel G., et al. Changes In Plasma Antioxidant Capacity And Oxidised Low-Density Lipoprotein Levels In Men After Short-Term Cranberry Juice Consumption. Metabolism 2005; 54:856-861.

5. Ruel G., et al. Impact Of Low-Calorie Cranberry Juice Consumption On Plasma Hdl-Cholesterol Concentrations In Men. British Journal Of Nutrition 2006; 96:357-364.

6. Gregoire S. et al. Influence of cranberry phenolics on glucan synthesis by glucosyltransferases and Streptococcus mutans acidogenicity J Appl Microbiol. 2007 Nov;103(5):1960-8.

7. Stothers L. A Randomized Trial To Evaluate Effectiveness And Cost Effectiveness Of Naturopathic Cranberry Products As Prophylaxis Against Urinary Tract Infection In Women. Canadian Journal Of Urology 2002; 9:1558-1562.

8. Griffiths P. The role of cranberry juice in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Br J Community Nurs. 2003 Dec;8(12):557-61.

9. McMurdo ME. et al. Cranberry or trimethoprim for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections? A randomized controlled trial in older women. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2009 Feb;63(2):389-95. Epub 2008 Nov 28. 

10. Papandreou MA, et al. Effect of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry extract on cognitive performance of mice, brain antioxidant markers and acetylcholinesterase activity Behav Brain Res. 2009 Mar 17;198(2):352-8. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

11. Neto CC. Cranberry and blueberry: evidence for protective effects against cancer and vascular diseases. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):652-64.

12. McAnulty SR., et al. Effect of daily fruit ingestion on angiotensin converting enzyme activity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress in chronic smokers. Free Rad Res. 2005;39:1241-1248.

13. McAnulty SR., et al. Consumption of blueberry polyphenols reduces exercise-induced oxidative stress compared to vitamin C. Nutr Res. 2004;24:209-221.

14. Lau FC, Bielinski DF, Joseph JA. Inhibitory effects of blueberry extract on the production of inflammatory mediators in lipopolysaccharide-activated BV2 microglia. J Neuro Res. 2007; 85:1010-1017.

15. Auger, C., et al. Phenolics from Commercialized Grape Extracts Prevent Early Atherosclerotic Lesions in Hamsters by Mechanisms Other than Antioxidant Effect. J. Agric Food Chem. 2004; 52, 5297-5302

16. Najim, A. Extracts Enriched in Different Polyphenolic Families Normalize Increased Cardiac NADPH Oxidase Expression while Having Differential Effects on Insulin Resistance, Hypertension and Cardia Hypertrophy in High-Fructose Fed Rats. J. Agric Food Chem. 2005: 53, 151-157

17. Escribano-Bailon, M., et al. Anthocyanis in Berries of Maqui. Phytochem. Anal. 2006; 17, 8-14

18. Araya H, Clavijo C, Herrera C. [Antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables cultivated in Chile][Article in Spanish] Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2006 Dec;56(4):361-5.

19. Letiner, G., et al. Stress induced electrolyte and blood gas changes with and without a six day oral treatment with elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) concentrate. Magnesium-Bulletin 2000; 22(3): 72-76.

20. Zakay-Rones, Z., et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucas nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J. Alt. Comp. Med. 1995; 1(4): 361-369.

21. Bell, D.R. and Gochenaur, K. Characterization of coronary arterial reactivity of berry anthocyanins. Presented at Experimental Biology 2002, April 20-24, 2002 Orleans, La..

22. Matsumoto, M., et al. Gastroprotective effect of red pigments in black chokeberry fruit (Aronia melanocarpa Elliot) on acute gastric hemorrhagic lesions in rats. Journal of Agric. And Food Chem. 2004.

23. Jankowska, B., Jankowski, A., and Niedworok, J. Influence of natural anthocyanins from Aronia melanocarpa on course of acute experimental pancreatitis in rats. Military Medical Academy, Poland 1999.

24. Malik, M., et al Inhibition of colon cancer cell growth by anthocyanin-rich extracts from fruits. Presented at Colon Cancer: Genetics to Prevention Conference, March 7-10, 2002 Philadelphia, Pa.

25.  Gerlib, K.E., Kelley, B.D., and Mirro, M.J. Effect of anthocyanins on vascular reactivity in normal subjects. Pilot Study. St. Marys College, 6otre Dame, I6, Indiana University School of Medicine, Fort Wayne, I6.


Subscribe and receive the latest insights on the healthy food and beverage industry.
Join 47,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like