Berries are a group of fruits which have antioxidant properties and can help manage blood sugar. They also have the ability to reduce inflammation and protect the body from cancer. These fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and phenolic acids. Among the most important berries are blueberries and raspberries.
Blueberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber. In addition, they are loaded with potent compounds called anthocyanins, which are known to help combat heart disease and other ailments. Raspberries and blackberries are similarly rich in these health benefits. A cup of berries provides more than eight grams of fiber, which may help slow the decline in cognitive function. Several studies have shown that flavonoids found in berries can provide additional benefits to the human immune system.
Studies on berry traceability have used a variety of analytical techniques. Some have focused on detecting adulterants in jams, while others have attempted to differentiate cultivars. While these approaches have been successful in some instances, others have been unable to separate a variety of cultivars.
Recent research has focused on developing methods for detecting adulterants in berry products. GC and IR-based techniques have been utilized for sample identification and to discriminate between different species. However, these methods have limited applications in complex mixtures of species.
The detection of adulterants in strawberry purees was evaluated using FT-IR Fourier transform spectroscopy (FT-IRFTS) combined with partial least squares regression analysis (PLS). A fast method for detection of adulterants in strawberry purees based on FT-IR was developed. Using this technique, adulterants were detected at 4% and 20% (w/w).
For example, Defernez and Wilson (1995) used FT-IR in combination with PLS to separate strawberry-containing jams from jams without strawberries. These tests were successful in discriminating a variety of cultivars. Similarly, a high resolution GC-based study was conducted by Cossignani et al. Species from the genus Vaccinium were included in all published studies on the subject.
The use of targeted LC-MS techniques for authenticating berry-based products has also been studied. Although the methodology has proven to be accurate, the methods are only suitable for highly processed food products. Furthermore, these techniques have been limited by their repetitive nature. Therefore, the need for a more reliable and scientifically validated approach has been identified.
As with most modern-day health-beneficial “superfoods,” berries are subject to fraudulent adulteration. This is most commonly done through mislabeling the product’s contents and substituting a more desirable berry for the one originally intended.
One study compared phytochemical content of wild strawberries in two different areas in Mexico and Italy. They identified differences in the sugar moieties between the two countries. Another study examined ripe bilberries from Turkey and Finland. It found that bilberries from each country were more similar than they were different.
There are numerous health benefits to eating berries, such as protecting the body from cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Additionally, a number of studies have shown that berries can help control blood sugar and manage blood pressure. Other health-promoting compounds found in berries include anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins.