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article imageBerries may be healthy, but what actually gets past the mouth?

By Tim Sandle     Jan 30, 2013 in Science
Scientists have studied what happens to extracts from different berries high with human saliva and have shown that not all of the health-promoting substances survive in the mouth.
Considerable research has been published about berries, indicating that compounds that give colorful fruits their rich hues promote health (such as this article published by the Digital Journal).
However, it now transpires that not all of the health-providing substances in berries survive the mouth. This means that whilst scientists have shown certain colored berries contain important compounds in a test tube, what actually gets into the body doesn’t necessarily tally with what the fruit contains.
The main finding relates to a pigment called anthocyanins, which appears susceptible to saliva (or rather to the bacteria that is commonly found in saliva). This pigment has been linked to various health benefits. Anthocyanins vary between different fruits.
For the study, the researchers exposed extracts of anthocyanin pigments from blueberries, chokeberries, black raspberries, red grapes and strawberries to the saliva collected from 14 people.
The extent of the pigment degradation in saliva was linked to different types of anthocyanin, relating to the different chemical structures. This means that some anthocyanins in fruits survive chewing in the mouth better than others.
Although the researchers state that it is too early to say which fruits are better than others in relation to anthocyanin survival, their findings could help with the development of gum, which could contain anthocyanins and thus promote a ‘healthy mouth’.
The research was undertaken at the Ohio State University and published in the journal Food Chemistry.
More about Berries, Saliva, Health, Flavonoids, anthocyanins
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