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Volunteers over 65 needed for berryfruit study

12 July 2004

Volunteers over 65 needed for berryfruit study

HortResearch and its co-researchers have just begun a four-year $6.4m government-funded programme, Healthful Berries, to identify the health-enhancing attributes of berryfruit. Approval for the first study using human volunteers, known as the Berryfruit Cognitive Study, has now passed ethics committee and will get underway by the end of the month.

Previous research by both HortResearch and the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, suggests that the regular consumption of dark-red coloured fruit juices may be beneficial. The current study is aimed at improving our understanding of the health benefits of berryfruit consumption and discovering if berryfruit will aid cognition and function in humans.

Massey University will conduct the study and researchers are seeking 60 people over 65 in the Palmerston North region who will be asked to drink a glass of Boysenberry or blackcurrant juice every day for twelve weeks. Measurements will include both physical and cognitive tests at the beginning, middle and end of the study.

Study participants will be divided into three groups with one group taking a control drink of synthetic berryfruit. The others will either take a freshly manufactured blackcurrant or Boysenberry drink.

Programme leader Dr Tony McGhie of HortResearch says, “We want to create value-added berryfruit products with the optimum phytochemical compositions for enhanced health. So we need to more closely determine the anti-ageing properties of berryfruit products discover the underlying causes for these properties.”

The goal of the Healthful Berries Programme is to enable production of fresh and frozen fruit, juice concentrate, puree and pulp, freeze dried and powdered drinks and manufactured products with enhanced health and wellness attributes to meet the need in the global market. Demand for blackcurrants, Boysenberries and blueberries has doubled in size during the past decade as interest in anti-ageing foods grows rapidly.

The research team comprises scientists from HortResearch, Crop & Food Research, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, and the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging, Tufts University, Boston.

This study has been reviewed and approved by the Manawatu-Whanganui Human Ethics Committee (04/05/014). For further enquiries about the Berryfruit Cognitive Study please contact Chris Booth, Massey University, phone 0800 08 00 28, email


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