Berries: improving human health and healthy aging, and promoting quality life--a review

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Sep;65(3):299-308. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0177-1.


The importance of the diet in relation to human health has increased the interest of consumers on nutraceuticals rich foods, and especially on fruits and vegetables. Berries are rich sources of a wide variety of antioxidant phenolics; these phytochemicals include flavonoids, stilbenes, tannins, and phenolic acids. Reactive oxidant species and free radicals are produced in an extensive range of physiological processes. In addition to the antioxidant defenses produced in the body, there are exogenous sources supplied by the diet; this is the case of berry fruits, among others. The insufficiency of antioxidant defense mechanisms is associated to the pathology of chronic disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and diabetes. Therefore, the enforcement of the latter mechanisms is of the utmost importance. The isolation and characterization of compounds that may delay the onset of aging is receiving intense research attention; some berry phenolics are being associated with this functional performance. Berry phenolics may also act as antimicrobials which may be of help in the control of the wild spectra of pathogens, in view of recent problems associated with antibiotic resistance. Most of the research works on the antioxidant activity of bioactive constituents of berries has been carried out using in vitro assays. In view of this, the human studies investigating the bioavailability and potential toxicity of phenolics are receiving more attention. Finally, we would like to emphasize the necessity of associating new plant breeding and genetic studies of berries with the expression and overexpression of compounds for human health and healthy aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Magnoliopsida / chemistry*
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Phenols / therapeutic use*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / chemistry
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Phenols
  • Plant Preparations