Review of functional and pharmacological activities of berries.
Functional plant-based foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and berries) can improve health, have a preventive effect, and diminish the risk of different chronic diseases during in vivo and in vitro studies. Berries contain many phytochemicals, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. The primary phytochemicals in berry fruits are phenolic compounds including flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavonols, flavones, flavanols, flavanones, and isoflavonoids), tannins, and phenolic acids. Since berries have a high concentration of polyphenols, it is possible to use them for treating various diseases pharmacologically by acting on oxidative stress and inflammation, which are often the leading causes of diabetes, neurological, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. This review examines commonly consumed berries: blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, black raspberries, and strawberries and their polyphenols as potential medicinal foods (due to the presence of pharmacologically active compounds) in the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and other diseases. Moreover, much attention is paid to the bioavailability of active berry components. Hence, this comprehensive review shows that berries and their bioactive compounds possess medicinal properties and have therapeutic potential. Nevertheless, future clinical trials are required to study and improve the bioavailability of berries' phenolic compounds and extend the evidence that the active compounds of berries can be used as medicinal foods against various diseases.