Small berry fruits are consumed because of their attractive colour and special taste, and are considered one of the richest sources of natural antioxidants. Their consumption has been linked to the prevention of some chronic and degenerative diseases. The term 'berry fruits' encompasses the so-called 'soft fruits', primarily strawberry, currants, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry and cranberry. The objective of this review is to highlight the nutraceutical value of berries and to summarize the factors affecting berry fruit antioxidants. Particular attention is given to postharvest and processing operation factors that may affect fruit phytochemical content. The structure-antioxidant relationships for phenolic compounds - the main group of antioxidants in this fruit group - are presented and major areas for future research are identified.
Keywords: Fragaria; Ribes; Rubus; Vaccinium; bioactive compounds; phytochemicals; polyphenols.
© 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.