Blueberries Lose Some ‘Superfood’ Properties When Baked
October 30, 2013

Blueberries Not So Super When Faced With An Oven

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

Blueberries may not be so super after all when faced with the gooey-powers that reside in an oven.

Researchers set out to study how cooking and baking affect blueberries’ “superfood” properties. The team wrote in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that putting this popular fruit in dishes like pie changes the excellent health benefits that blueberries offer.

Blueberries are known as a “superfood” because they have a high polyphenol content, causing several health benefits including improved thinking, reduced risk for heart disease and reduced inflammation. Scientists believe that this set of natural compounds found in superfoods can help give consumers great benefits, but only if they are eaten raw.

Past studies have shown that processing methods like juicing and canning can lower polyphenol levels in blueberries by between 22 and 81 percent. This was the first study to test the stability of superfood properties during cooking, proofing and baking.

Researchers discovered that all three processes had mixed effects on blueberries’ polyphenols, including anthocyanin, procyanidin, quercetin and phenolic acids. Anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant, had its levels drop by 10 to 21 percent during these processes. This antioxidant has been shown to have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.

While some of the polyphenols were negatively affected by baking, others got a bit of a boost. Researchers saw that levels of smaller procyanidin oligomers got a boost, while those of the larger ones dropped. Studies have linked procyanidin to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality.

Other compounds, such as quercetin, remained the same throughout the baking process. Scientists say that the good retention of some polyphenols during the process could be due to the yeast used, which may act as a stabilizing agent.

This study has helped prove that the properties that make blueberries a superfood definitely change when the fruit is used in cooking, proofing and baking. However, more studies are needed to have a deeper understanding of how these processes change the fruit and what effects they might have on the body afterwards.

"Due to their possible health benefits, a better understanding of the impact of processing is important to maximize the retention of these phytochemicals in berry-containing-products," the researchers wrote in the journal.