New research launched on the impact of fruit on heart health
Researchers at the University of East Anglia have received funding for a major new study into the use of berry-derived fruit and fruit juices to fight heart disease.
Starting in January, the £600,000 project will be led by Dr Colin Kay and Prof Aedin Cassidy of UEA’s Diet and Health Group.
It is already known that the polyphenols in fruit and vegetables can protect against heart disease. Berries and berry-derived juices including cranberries, blackcurrants, grapes - and even wine – have a particularly high concentration of polyphenols called anthocyanins.
Research has shown that, in their pure form, anthocyanins can restore the function of certain cells in blood vessels. However, what is not known is how anthocyanins are altered during commercial food processing or once they enter our bodies.
The new project will focus on this gap in our knowledge to discover whether food processing and digestion compromises the disease-fighting potential of anthocyanins, and exactly what processes are at work.
“This exciting project will allow us to understand what happens to anthocyanins following ingestion and establish the effects of processing and metabolism on their potential heart benefits,” said lead investigator Dr Colin Kay.
The UEA team will be working on the project with Dr Paul Kroon at the Institute of Food Research and building on a long-established collaboration with Dr Nigel Botting at the University of St Andrews.
The research is funded by the Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) - a £10m partnership between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and a consortium of food and drink companies. The aim of the partnership is to help the food industry deliver enhanced health benefits for consumers.