Diet and nutrition have an important influence on the prophylaxis and progression of cardiovascular disease; one example is the inhibition of blood platelet functions by specific components of fruits and vegetables. Garlic, onion, ginger, dark chocolate and polyunsaturated fatty acids all reduce blood platelet aggregation. A number of fruits contain a range of cardioprotective antioxidants and vitamins, together with a large number of non-nutrient phytochemicals such as phenolic compounds, which may possess both antioxidant properties and anti-platelet activity. Fresh berries and berry extracts possess high concentrations of phenolic compounds, i.e. phenolic acid, stilbenoids, flavonoids and lignans. The aim of this review article is to provide an overview of current knowledge of the anti-platelet activity of berries, which form an integral part of the human diet. It describes the effects of phenolic compounds present in a number of berries, i.e. black chokeberries - aronia berries (Aronia melanocarpa), blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus), cranberries (Vaccinium sect. Oxycoccus), sea buckthorn berries (Hippophae rhamnoides) and grapes (Vitis), as well as various commercial products from berries (i.e. juices), on platelets and underlying mechanisms. Studies show that the effects of berries on platelet activity are dependent on not only the concentrations of the phenolic compounds in the berries or the class of phenolic compounds, but also the types of berry and the form (fresh berry, juice or medicinal product). Different results indicate that berries may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disorders, but the development of well-controlled clinical studies with berries is encouraged.
Keywords: Aronia; berries; cardiovascular diseases; grapes; phenolic compounds; platelets; sea buckthorn.