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Tasty and healthy: add soft fruit to your Christmas table

Berries are rich in polyphenols (c) James Hutton Institute
“These compounds have shown strong potential to protect your precious neurons against neurodegenerative conditions and degenerative disease such as oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation”

In addition to more traditional seasonal dishes, there are good reasons to add some soft fruit to Christmas meals to enjoy extra health benefits, scientists at the James Hutton Institute have said.

Researchers at the Institute have teamed with colleagues in Portugal and the United States to study the potential of polyphenols to provide protection against the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

By crossing the blood-brain barrier and reaching brain cells, these compounds have shown neuroprotective effects, potentially alleviating neurodegenerative diseases, research suggests.

Professor Derek Stewart, agrifood business sector leader at the Institute and co-author of the paper, said: “Our study found that when consumed, berries are metabolised into molecules that can reach the brain in considerable amounts.

“These compounds have shown strong potential to protect your precious neurons against neurodegenerative conditions and degenerative disease such as oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation.”

The study was published in Scientific Reports and was led by the Instituto de Tecnologia Quı́mica e Biológica – António Xavier, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Likewise, Professor Stewart said hungover merrymakers may benefit from drinking blackcurrant juice, due to the intrinsic properties of the fruit.

“Hangovers are associated with dehydration, low blood sugar and associated salt imbalance and this can be redressed by taking in blackcurrant juice which, due to its good sugar/salt balance, plenty of water and a palatable taste is easy on the stomach, whilst the inherent goodness of its vitamin C content gives your immune system a boost.”

Blackcurrants are increasingly described as a ‘superfood’ because of their high levels of health-boosting compounds such as antioxidants, which help protect our bodies from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

In particular, anthocyanins – which give the berries their characteristic colour – have been suggested by scientific research to have considerable health benefits, specifically regarding the cardiovascular system, brain, urinary tract and vision.

The James Hutton Institute is the one of the world’s leading institutions for soft fruit research. Hutton scientists have developed fifty percent of the world’s blackcurrant crop, and soft fruit varieties developed by the Institute and its predecessors can be seen in supermarket shelves both in the UK and abroad.

To learn more about soft fruit research at the James Hutton Institute, visit our Soft fruit genetics page.

PaperPolyphenols journey through blood-brain barrier towards neuronal protection, by I. Figueira, G. Garcia, R. C. Pimpão, A. P. Terrasso, I. Costa, A. F. Almeida, L. Tavares, T. F. Pais, P. Pinto, M. R. Ventura, A. Filipe, G. J. McDougall, D. Stewart, K. S. Kim, I. Palmela, D. Brites, M. A. Brito, C. Brito & C. N. Santos. Scientific Reports 7, 11456 (2017). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11512-6

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Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

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Printed from /news/tasty-and-healthy-add-soft-fruit-your-christmas-table on 20/10/19 01:23:42 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.