The antioxidant level of Alaska's wild berries: high, higher and highest

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2013 Aug 5:72. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v72i0.21188. eCollection 2013.


Background: In the last few years, antioxidants have become the stars of the nutritional world. Antioxidants are important in terms of their ability to protect against oxidative cell damage that can lead to conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer and heart disease--conditions also linked with chronic inflammation. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Alaska's wild berries may have the potential to help prevent these diseases.

Objective: To discover the antioxidant levels of Alaska wild berries and the ways these antioxidant levels translate when preservation methods are applied to the berry.

Design: This research centred on both the raw berries and products made from the berries. In the first year, a variety of wild berries were tested to discover their oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) in the raw berries. The second level of the research project processed 4 different berries--blueberries, lingonberries, salmonberries, highbush cranberries--into 8 or 9 products made from these berries. The products were tested for both ORAC as well as specific antioxidants.

Results: The Alaska wild berries collected and tested in the first experiment ranged from 3 to 5 times higher in ORAC value than cultivated berries from the lower 48 states. For instance, cultivated blueberries have an ORAC scale of 30. Alaska wild dwarf blueberries measure 85. This is also higher than lower 48 wild blueberries, which had a score of 61. All of the Alaskan berries tested have a level of antioxidant considered nutritionally valuable, ranging from 19 for watermelon berries to 206 for lingonberries on the ORAC scale. With the processed products made from 4 Alaska wild berries, one of the unexpected outcomes of the research was that the berries continued to have levels of antioxidants considered high, despite the effects of commonly used heat-processing techniques. When berries were dehydrated, per gram ORAC values increased.

Conclusion: Alaska wild berries have extraordinarily high antioxidant levels. Though cooking lowered the antioxidant level, and adding ingredients such as sugar diluted the antioxidant concentration, products made from berries are high sources of antioxidants.

Keywords: Alaska; antioxidants; berries; nutritional value; phytochemical.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alaska
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Blueberry Plants / chemistry
  • Food Handling
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Nutritive Value
  • Vaccinium vitis-idaea / chemistry
  • Viburnum / chemistry


  • Antioxidants