Researcher welcomes TV programme's dark berry push

The James Hutton Institute (JHI) has welcomed the highlighting of the benefits to brain health of anthocyanin-rich dark berries in BBC One's How to Stay Young.

Derek Stewart - Image:HW
Derek Stewart - Image:HW

The Dundee institute has been active in this research area for many years, building up a body of evidence identifying soft fruits, particularly blackcurrants, as beneficial to human health.

Research theme leader Professor Derek Stewart said experiments on mice had shown that blackcurrants can alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, adding: "This neuro-protective effect has been corroborated by other collaborative studies we have undertaken with Portuguese scientists, in related conditions such as Parkinson's disease."

Other studies undertaken by JHI in collaboration with the University of Ulster and others "have given a clear message that these soft fruits, with their high natural levels of anthocyanins, impact beneficially toward maintaining good gut health and potentially reducing the risk of gut cancers", he said.

Uniquely, JHI conducts such research alongside soft fruit breeding, "meaning we can, and are, aiming to generate enhanced varieties in the future", he added.

In the programme, presenter Angela Rippon pointed to the apparent role of antocyanins in maintaining brain health based on evidence from Okinawa, Japan where anthocyanin-rich purple sweet potatoes are central to the diet.

Pointing out that "blackcurrants in particular contain huge amounts of anthocyanins", she concluded: "If we want to slow down the natural shrinkage of the brain, we should eat a lot more fruit and vegetables, especially the purple ones."

It can be viewed online here.

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