CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fresh blackberries were recently identified as one of nature’s top cancer fighters. Studies show blackberries have the highest antioxidant content per serving of any food tested and have important cancer fighting properties. Ample supplies of healthful blackberries are now in supermarkets and club stores during their spring peak, according to Sun Belle Inc., a leading berry marketer and distributor.
Fresh blackberries were ranked #1 in antioxidant content per serving out of 1500 fresh and prepared foods in a study by Norwegian and US researchers published in the July 2006 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study indicated that blackberries’ antioxidant content of 5.75 millimoles per serving was far ahead of other products. Walnuts ranked #2 at 3.72 millimoles per serving and strawberries #3 at 3.58. Other berries also ranked high on the list: cranberries were 5th 3.12 millimoles per serving, raspberries came in 7th at 2.87 millimoles per serving and blueberries, already well known for their antioxidant content, placed 9th at 2.68 millimoles per serving.
Many studies have linked an increase in dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables to reduced risks of a range of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, ulcers and diabetes. Anthocyanins, the powerful antioxidants naturally found in the pigment of black, blue and red berries, help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related neuronal conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies demonstrate that greater health benefits result from eating fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants than from antioxidant supplements.
Fresh blackberries’ specific cancer-fighting properties were explored in a study published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Scientists from USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and West Virginia University tested the anti-cancer potential of Cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G), a member of the anthocyanin family found in the blackberry’s dark pigment. The scientists observed a significant reduction in the number, growth and metastisis of malignant and non-malignant skin tumors in mice. In addition the same study found that C3G reduced the growth of lung cancer cells in mice, and inhibited their spread to other organs. More research is occurring at universities around the world to identify the mechanisms at work that give blackberries their nutraceutical edge.
While blackberries have always been popular, fresh blackberries were not consistently found on supermarket shelves until production in Mexico commenced approximately 10 years ago. According to Janice Honigberg, president of Sun Belle Inc., “Mexican production has increased considerably in the last few years with the introduction of world class growing and shipping operations. At the same time, demand for fresh blackberries has taken off with the introduction of the luscious Tupi variety. The long uninterrupted growing season from October through mid June and regular availability in supermarkets and club stores allow consumers to enjoy fresh blackberries week after week.”
The produce industry’s The Packer Fresh Trends 2007 indicates that only 18% of consumers purchased blackberries within the past 12 months. “Blackberry demand has an immense amount of potential to expand in the future,” stated Honigberg. “Consumption of blackberries could someday equal that of blueberries or raspberries given consumers’ growing taste for and recognition of the healthful benefits of these delicious berries.”
Sun Belle Inc., founded by Janice Honigberg in 1986, has distribution centers in Melrose Park, Illinois, Miami, Florida, Washington, DC, and Oxnard, California. The company ships fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and red currants worldwide from farms in Chile, Mexico, Argentina and the U.S. Sun Belle will be showing at United Fresh Marketplace at Chicago’s McCormick Place, May 6-8. In addition to Sun Belle blackberries, other produce from Sun Belle Inc. will be on display at booth number 9519, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday.