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Keywords:

  • Antioxidants;
  • Antimicrobial effect;
  • Berries;
  • Bioactivities;
  • Phenolics

Abstract

In Finland, berries are part of the traditional diet significantly contributing to the intake of flavonoids and other phenolic compounds. Compositional data on phenolic compounds in berries has been rapidly accumulating and included in the national food composition database. Among the different bioactive substances in berries, phenolic compounds including flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic acids have received considerable interest due to their effects in food and health. A great amount of in vitro evidence exists showing that berry phenolics are powerful antioxidants. However, the antioxidant effect of berry phenolics is strongly dependent on the choice of berry raw material, as the antioxidant activity differs between the different phenolic constituents, including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidins. In foods, the antioxidant effect is also influenced by the structure of food. Tannin-containing berries exhibit antimicrobial properties against pathogenic bacteria, thus offering many new applications for food industry. Much of the interest in berry phenolics has focused on cranberries and both cultivated and wild blueberries, although also other berries including black currants, cloudberries, lingonberries, and red raspberries posses promising bioactivities that may have relevance to human health. Antioxidant activity of berry phenolics, in addition to other mechanisms, may contribute to human health, but the possible relationship remains yet to be scientifically substantiated.