New research has suggested that health benefits associated with berries may not go beyond the oral cavity. In a recent, unique food study, scientists exposed berry pigments, which are thought to prevent various tumors owing to their high anthocyanin content, to human saliva and found that oral bacteria are responsible for the breakdown of most of these compounds.
Researchers at the Ohio State University’s Department of Human Nutrition tested the stability of anthocyanins, the pigments that give fruits their rich colors, from blueberries, chokeberries, strawberries and black raspberries in saliva samples collected from 14 healthy individuals (21 to 55 years old).
Dr. Mark Failla, professor of human nutrition at the university, explained that bacteria in the oral cavity were found to be primary mediators of pigment metabolism, as they converted compounds in foods into metabolites. The extent to which the anthocyanins were degraded varied among the different samples. However, delphinidin and petunidin, two anthocyanin families, were more susceptible to degradation when exposed to saliva, compared with cyanidin, pelargonidin, peonidin and malvidin.
Currently, the researchers do not know whether the pigments themselves or the products of their degradation are the actual health-promoting compounds. Such insights may hold important implications for the development of food products to treat oral conditions and diseases containing a mixture of anthocyanins that are stable or less stable in the mouth and other regions of the gastrointestinal tract respectively, Failla said.
“Increased intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of some chronic diseases. An understanding of the metabolism of these compounds, and the relative activities of the compounds in the consumed fruit and their metabolic products, is needed to make scientifically sound dietary recommendations and to develop effective delivery vehicles for the mouth,” he added.
In order to understand the processes underlying the absorption of anthocyanin better, the research group is continuing the work, examining which bacteria are most involved in the metabolism of anthocyanins and testing the stability of pigments of berry juices in the mouths of human volunteers.
The study, titled “Susceptibility of Anthocyanins to Ex Vivo Degradation in Human Saliva,” was published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Food Chemistry journal.
Original Source: The Dental Tribune.com