Health Effects of Vaccinium myrtillus L.: Evaluation of Efficacy and Technological Strategies for Preservation of Active Ingredients
Antonella Smeriglio, Domenico Monteleone and Domenico Trombetta
Affiliation: University of Messina, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Health Products, Villaggio SS Annunziata, 98168 Messina, Italy.
Keywords: Anthocyanins, bilberry, formulations, health effects, processing, stability, storage, technological strategies.
Bilberries are a rich dietary source of various phytonutrients, including anthocyanins which contribute greatly
to their antioxidant capacity and have demonstrated a broad spectrum of biomedical functions. These include protection
against cardiovascular disorders, age-induced oxidative stress, inflammatory responses and several degenerative diseases.
Berry anthocyanins also improve neuronal and cognitive brain functions, ocular health as well as protecting genomic
DNA integrity. In recent years, sales of many dietary supplements/pharmaceutical products containing anthocyanins in
various dosages and formulations have been made by advertising their wide range of beneficial effects. However, there is
a heightened risk of distributing deteriorated formulations to consumers due to lax regulations, in particular those
applicable to phytochemical characterization and extract standardization, and in terms of quality regarding the stability of
anthocyanins. Anthocyanin pigments readily degrade during industrial processing and this can have a dramatic impact on
color quality and may also affect nutritional/pharmaceutical properties. This review aims to summarize the main health
effects of bilberry extract used in several food supplements/pharmaceutical formulations focusing on some important
aspects of anthocyanin degradation during processing and storage. It will also describe the main technological strategies
which can give active ingredients greater stability, solubility and dispersibility in order to enhance formulation quality
which is of great interest to the consumer and industry due to its direct and indirect impact on consumer health.
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