Enhancing health benefits of berries through phenolic antioxidant enrichment: focus on cranberry.`
Emerging epidemiological evidence is increasingly pointing to the beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables in managing chronic and infectious diseases. These beneficial effects are now suggested to be due to the constituent phenolic phytochemicals having antioxidant activity. Cranberry like other fruits is also rich in phenolic phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, flavonoids and ellagic acid. Consumption of cranberry has been historically been linked to lower incidences of urinary tract infections and has now been shown to have a capacity to inhibit peptic ulcer-associated bacterium, Helicobacter pylori. Isolated compounds from cranberry have also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Recent evidence suggests the ability of phytochemical components in whole foods in being more effective in protectively supporting human health than compared to isolated individual phenolic phytochemicals. This implies that the profile of phenolic phytochemicals determines the functionality of the whole food as a result of synergistic interaction of constituent phenolic phytochemicals. Solid state bioprocessing using food grade fungi common in Asian food cultures as well as cranberry phenolic synergies through the addition of functional biphenyls such as ellagic acid and rosmarinic acid along with processed fruit extracts have helped to advance these concepts. These strategies could be further explored to enrich cranberry and cranberry products with functional phytochemicals and further improve their functionality for enhancing health benefits.