Researchers Paint Bright Future for Berry Research, Interview with Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman


The NPRC recently attended the Berry Health Benefits Symposium (BHBS) in Madison, WI where nearly 150 researchers and industry members gathered to hear the latest research from scientists from both the U.S. and abroad.

We caught up with Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D. the Director of the Center for Nutrition Research at the Institute for Food Safety and Health and Associate Professor, Food Science and Nutrition at the Illinois Institute of Technology to hear first-hand about her key takeaways from the Berry Health Benefits Symposium and the NPRC’s Raspberry Roundtable. Dr. Burton-Freeman is the Science Advisor for the NPRC where she helps guide health research strategy and provides ongoing counsel regarding the interface between research and marketing.

What is the current state of berry health research efforts?

I’m really impressed with the progress of the berry health benefits research. The science is consistently solid, sophisticated, applicable and actionable, which will continue to deliver great value to the berry industry.

In what areas of research are we seeing the most significant progress?

First of all, research evidence is accumulating to demonstrate that berry consumption may play an important role in decreasing cardiovascular and metabolic-related issues, such as insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Also, we are continuing to deepen our understanding for how berries impact health by learning more about how berry polyphenols are broken down into bioactive metabolites and how these are utilized by the body.

Where can we expect to see interesting research developments over the next few years?

The gut microbiome is an emerging area of knowledge as we continue to learn more about how the microbes in our gut impact the overall “health” equation. There is much research underway investigating berries and the gut microbiome and you can expect to hear much more about this in the coming years.

In addition to the significant amount of research dedicated to polyphenols, we are reminded of the importance of the “other” components of berries, such as fibers and other carbohydrate components.

How are you feeling about the future of red raspberry health research?

I am very optimistic about red raspberry research. There is a great pipeline of research spanning in vitro (cell culture) to pre-clinical research in humans, so we can expect the body of red raspberry science to grow significantly over the next few years.

What opportunities are on the horizon for red raspberry health research?

In the near future, I think there are several key areas of opportunity for red raspberry research, including cardio-metabolic health, cognitive function, satiety and body weight management. These are areas that are of significant interest to consumers, so we are very interested to learn more about the role red raspberries might play.