Scientific research would suggest that the colorants called anthocyanins in strong-coloured berries like red berries, blueberries and blackcurrants may have a role in preventing heart disease. A three-year European-funded collaborative research project, that started in 2000, is currently investigating the functional properties of anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich food ingredients and their influence on heart disease.
The researchers expect to develop improved techniques to increase the phenolic content in red berry juice and new anthocyanin-rich functional food recipes, and to provide a new insight into the potential actions of dietary anthocyanins in preventing heart disease.
Results so far reveal that new methodologies in red berry juice processing increase the anthocyanin content, and that these compounds may be used as colorants, said Dr Marina Heinonen from the Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology in Finland, and coordinator of the project.
Future applications of the project's results could include the production of red berry juices as a healthy alternative to red wine for dietary protection against heart disease and the optimal use of anthocyanins as natural food ingredients and food additives (colorants). The scientists also suggest that research could lead to the development of anthocyanin-rich functional foods using the peeling waste of fruit and vegetables from food industry.
Further information on the European project QLK1-1999-00124 'Anthocyanin Bioactivities' can be obtained from marina.heinonen@Helsinki.fi