Scientists Gather in Bar Harbor for 20th Wild Blueberry Health Research Summit

Published: Sep. 28, 2017 at 6:12 PM EDT
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Mary Ann Lila, Director of Plants for the Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University says, "Wild blueberry is a relatively small crop and there's not a whole lot of money they can give for research. Why are we all here? Because it's so impactful to human health."

Scientists from around the world are in Bar Harbor this week for the 20th Annual Wild Blueberry Health Research Summit.

The multi-day summit was created in 1997 -- by a small group of Wild Blueberry industry experts and research has continued to expand.

Lila says, "In the beginning we were all doing more simple work on looking at the blueberry itself. The research in the 20 years since we began has evolved into clinical research, looking at human studies."

Scientists have discovered many things about the wild blueberry -- such as the potential to improve memory, mood and cognitive function and prevent the effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Lila says, "Unlike most fruits that you would buy in the grocery store, the wild blueberry has so many different active chemicals within it, that it actually has efficacy against a whole range of chronic human diseases."

This research is beneficial to anyone with a taste for wild blueberries and for the Wild Blueberry Association.

Kit Broihier, Nutrition Advisor for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America says, "We like to learn as much as we can about wild blueberries. Down the line we can communicate these findings of theirs to consumers and consumers do want to know more and more what's in their food these days. This gives us messages not only about how great they taste but we can tell them that when they're choosing wild blueberries, they're choosing something that has a lot of health research behind it as well."

And these researchers put the blueberries where their mouths are.

Broihier says, "We do practice what we preach. We serve wild blueberries every day at this meeting, usually multiple times per day and everyone loves them."