by Marion Nestle
Aug 19 2019

Industry-funded study–and journal section–of the week: Blueberries yet again

The study: Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins.   Wilhelmina Kalt, Aedin Cassidy, Luke R Howard, Robert Krikorian, April J Stull, Francois Tremblay,Raul Zamora-Ros.   Advances in Nutrition, nmz065,

Abstract conclusion: More evidence, and particularly human clinical evidence, is needed to better understand the potential for anthocyanin-rich blueberries to benefit public health. However, it is widely agreed that the regular consumption of tasty, ripe blueberries can be unconditionally recommended.

Overall conclusion:  It can be safely stated that daily moderate intake (50 mg anthocyanins, one-third cup of blueberries) can mitigate the risk of diseases and conditions of major socioeconomic importance in the Western world.

Funding: The United States Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) offered support for this article by providing an honorarium to each author but had no role in the design and conduct of the review.  Author disclosures: AC, LRH, RZ-R, no conflicts of interest. AC acts as an advisor to the USHBC grant committee and has received research support from the USHBC. RK, WK, AJS, and FT have received research funding from the USHBC and have no conflict of interest.

Comment:  This is a literature review.  The USHBC paid the authors to write it.  That makes this article a paid advertisement for blueberries.  Why the authors think they have no conflict of interest in taking the money to write this is beyond me.  We can ask why the USHBC thinks this kind of “study” is needed.  Of course blueberries are recommended.  They are a fruit and all fruits are recommended.  The USHBC wants you to think that blueberries are especially beneficial, but that can be said of any fruit.  Not all fruits have sponsors paying for articles, however.


The papers in this series were supported in one way or another by one or another blueberry trade associations.

Comment: The introductory paper in this series explains what it is about: “The epidemiological evidence is strong and convincing regarding the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to ward off age-related diseases. However, what about individual foods?”  What about them?  I love blueberries but are they really better for older adults than raspberries, strawberries, or peaches, for that matter?  Variety is still a basic principle of nutrition.  Enjoy your fruit bowl.