Friday, September 30, 2011

Cancer Study Follow-Up: Report Brings Key Nutritional Messages to Light

Food as Medicine & Colorful Diet at the Heart of New Study, Says Nutrition Expert Susan Davis

This week, Wild About Health shared a new study from researchers at the City of Hope in Los Angeles that showed the positive effect of blueberries on triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer that typically responds poorly to treatment. (Read our post, Exciting Study Ties Blueberries to Breast Cancer Prevention, where you'll also be able to view the video and hear from the researchers firsthand.) Today, we're following up on this compelling study with Nutrition Advisor Susan Davis, MS, RD, who provides insight into its promising results and helps us parse its nutritional message.

The investigation into the health benefits of blueberries was familiar to researchers Shiuan Chen, Ph.D  and Lynn Adams, Ph.D. A 2010 study into the cancer-fighting properties of the fruit prompted them to refer to blueberries as one of the most potent and popular disease fighters available. Previous research has focused on the powerful phytochemicals in blueberries that counter the damage of free radicals, and this latest study took the inquiry one step further. “Our results demonstrate that blueberry consumption can greatly reduce the growth and spread of an aggressive form of breast cancer,” said Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology at City of Hope and senior author on the paper that will appear in the October issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Such promise for a particularly deadly form of a challenging disease generated excitement for those interested in the topic of breast cancer as well as those in the fields of health and nutrition. While the study’s focus was on blueberries – already known for their disease-fighting properties – the true message of the study, said Nutrition Advisor to the Wild Blueberry Association Susan Davis, MS, RD, is not necessarily to urge people to eat more blueberries, but to help advance a vital health message that still needs spreading.

Wild About Health was fortunate to have Davis weigh in on the study. Davis is a member of the Bar Harbor Group, a collective of U.S. and Canadian researchers who are active in the fields of neuroscience, aging, cardiovascular disease, cancer, eye health and other health-related areas who regularly share their research findings and explore opportunities in blueberry and berry nutritional health and research. The group met this past August to share new research into the connection between blueberries and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.

Susan Davis, MS, RD
Davis said the City of Hope study was significant both in the dramatic performance of blueberries and because of their effect on many markers for breast cancer. Not only did tumor size decrease by 75%, but metastases, or the spread of cancer, was also decreased. In addition, mechanisms were identified to explain how blueberries could have these effects, an important step forward in understanding the connection between health and these superfood components.

The study’s applicability to all diets also reinforced an important message of food as medicine, Davis said. “The fact that the amount of fruit consumed is achievable in ordinary diets shows the power of foods in helping prevent disease,” she told Wild About Health. Researchers like Chen and Adams and those who are part of the Bar Harbor Group continue to make strides toward isolating components in food that could help prevent cancers and diseases of aging, providing more scientific evidence that we should view food as “treatment” for disease as well as use it defensively as a preventative for disease and the effects of aging.

According to Davis, studies like this one solidify this message for the public and help contribute to a cultural understanding that can save our lives and contribute to our longevity: that what we eat makes a significant difference in how we look, how we feel, and how healthy we are. She said that it’s a message that has not been fully adopted in this country. “Many other cultures look to foods and herbs to treat illnesses and honor their bodies,” she said. “In the U.S. we are slow to get the message.” While many of us are taking nutritional measures to preserve our health, others continue to miss the clear connection that exists between food and our wellness.

“Get the colors on your plate at every
meal, and make one of them blue,"
advises Susan Davis.
Davis said another important aspect of this study’s subsequent report and analysis is the message reiterated by its researchers concerning the effects of food synergy. Because fruits and vegetables contain very different compounds that complement each other, it’s important to understand that one will not provide all the health benefits we need. Instead, these components work together, in ways we don’t yet understand, to augment their singular effects. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, variety truly is the key to healthy eating, and that's another message worth hearing again and again.

“Berries are powerful sources of protective compounds and the blues are one of the best.  A good way to judge how healthy your diet is, is by color,” said Davis. “Get the colors on your plate at every meal, and make one of them blue.”

Have you made one of the colors on your plate blue today? Find out more about why you should get your daily dose of blue.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Video! Exciting Study Ties Blueberries to Breast Cancer Prevention

There is no more exciting time in the world of blueberry research. The nutritional potential of blueberries, particularly wild blueberries, is high and building as we find out more and more about the natural disease preventing chemicals sheathed by that dark blue skin.

Now, a new study conducted by researchers at the City of Hope in Los Angeles provides an encouraging connection between the nutritional benefits of this powerhouse fruit to breast cancer prevention, isolating a specific link to a very aggressive form of the disease.

Watch Blueberries: A Triple Threat Against Triple-Negative Breast Cancers from the City of Hope and hear firsthand what the researchers have to say about this important study.

The study builds upon an infrastructure of previous research into the effect of phytochemicals, naturally occurring substances that are highly concentrated in blueberries and are present in other fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals neutralize free radicals and help prevent cell damage, which prevents diseases of aging and types of cancer.

This promising study reports on the effect of blueberries on a type of breast cancer referred to as triple-negative. Triple-negative breast cancer is difficult to treat and has a high mortality rate compared to other types of breast cancers.

The study was conducted by researchers Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., and Lynn Adams, Ph.D and will be published in the October 2011 issue of The Journal Of Nutrition. In terms of the connection between triple-negative breast cancer and the effect of blueberries, the report includes the following outcomes:
  • inhibited proliferation of triple negative cells
  • increased death rate of bad cells
  • inhibited metastatic potential, or migration of cells
  • inhibited tumor growth 
The details of the results of the study can be found at The Lempert Report.

We know that blueberries contain phytochemicals, and according to co-researcher Dr. Shiuan Chen, we already have the evidence that blueberries can help to suppress the proliferation and migration of cancer cells. Still outstanding is actually defining what the active chemicals are that act on these cancer cells. But the results of this initial study remain very exciting. Because the study was conducted with blueberry powder fed to mice, it must, of course, be replicated in humans, but one encouraging factor was the achievable amount of blueberry intake involved. It is common to hear of studies involving amounts of food that would be impossible to consume. Here, the dose required to achieve results was equivalent to two cups of fresh blueberries per day, something reasonable for consumption by humans.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women during their lives. Anticipating more definitive research into this important cancer, particularly into this very aggressive form, is very exciting. There are few effective drugs for triple-negative breast cancer, and lowering mortality rates would have an enormous impact on the population with the disease and for those who are at risk. But there’s no need to wait to start a disease-fighting regimen: there is overwhelming agreement in the scientific community that efforts to lower the risk of breast cancer involve eating blueberries and a variety of fruits and vegetables, according to co-researcher Dr. Lynn Adams. To get variety in your diet, use the rainbow as your guide. The different colors of fruits and vegetables provide diverse forms of phytochemicals, which appear to act in synergy with one another to prevent disease. Blueberries, specifically wild blueberries, which have a higher ORAC score than cultivated blueberries, are the best way to integrate the blue-purple color of the spectrum.  

The fact that foods which could provide anti-cancer benefits are readily available is a valuable message for consumers. We are lucky that this convenient, delicious fruit is available frozen in grocery stores all year, providing all the nutrition of fresh. Start getting your two cups per day. You’ll be doing something good for your body and making strides toward disease prevention.

A lot is happening in the world of nutrition research! Find out more about the exciting new research into the health advantages of wild blueberries, and read the latest news about how blueberries can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall for Apples

Shine Up a Cortland, Grab a Macoun…This Favorite Fruit 
Has a Lot to Offer 

Kiwi, guava, cactus pears, acai…the longsuffering apple can get lost in the cornucopia of today’s stylish fruit choices. It’s easy to pick up a bag during apple-picking season, cook up a crisp, and forget this favorite until next year. But the list of reasons to keep apples on your year-round list is long. The apple has a reputation for warding off the doctor for a reason. Besides being universally liked, it is easy to eat and transport, it is readily available, and its nutritional benefit is rock solid.

Mom's the Word

The apple's iconic history is unparalleled in our culture, with its penchant for pie, and its ability to conjure wholesome visions of an apron-clad Mom. It's nutritional history is similarly deep: famed SuperfoodRx author Dr. Steven Pratt, who helped bring the advantages of antioxidant-rich wild blueberries to the public, also gave the superfood nod to apples for their disease-preventing, anti-aging nutrients. They can’t be ignored for those interested in fighting cancer, heart disease, and Type II diabetes.

So, is the everyday apple prescription tired advice? Not a chance. Here’s why:
  • They have fiber.
  • They are rich in Vitamin C.
  • They have excellent antioxidant properties. 
  • They contain a powerful dose of polyphenols.
  • They are rich in potassium.
  • They are satisfyingly high in fiber (whenever possible, eat the skin). 
  • They are fat free, sodium free & cholesterol free.
Tastes Worth Telling, William

Red Delicious, Northern Spy...the variety of apples adds to the fruit’s allure. Whether you cherish sweetness or crispness, you’ve probably got your favorite. There are hundreds of apple varieties, and Maine provides an excellent region for sampling many of them. Visit a local orchard and start grazing to identify your favorite. The Maine Pomological Society (that’s right – pomology is the study of pome fruit, and apples are the most commonly known pome)  provides a run-down of local varieties you’re likely to encounter.

The time is now for enjoying the essence of apples, and if you live here in Maine, it’s practically an apple fair a day. Check the Portland Press Herald for a listing of apple festivals galore, including this weekend’s Apple Pumpkin Festival in Livermore Falls, and Downeast Heirloom Apple Week at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor taking place in October.

Cider: Apples to Apples 

It's truly the essence of the apple. The enthusiasm for the array of apple cider blends for its connoisseurs is no less than that of oenophiles for their wine. Cider, the naturally sweet juice from apples, is particularly beloved in the Northeast. It serves as the impetus for many fairs, festivals and gatherings that focus on this drinkable treat. Cider is a unique seasonal pleasure that differs from apple juice because of its raw, unfiltered nature. (In cider, the pulp and sediment that is otherwise taken away in regular apple juice is preserved.) It may come as no surprise that cider contains all the health benefits of apples. For those who pasteurize, the process does little to affect its high nutrition.

Can you make your own? You bet. tempts those who want to try their hand at their own personal blend. The required equipment can be purchased without too much expenditure, and the result can be enjoyed, or canned for future use.

Slim Pickings

Take full advantage this fall when local apples are abundant in the Northeast – and keep them on your radar throughout the year for nutritional benefit in a figure-saving package. If you are looking for ways to bite the big apple, go au naturel for unadulterated advantage, or take your pick from these apple ideas when your diet allows for indulgence.
  • Ruth Reichle presents her favorite October recipes, and a stand-out on the list is Red Wine Caramel Apples. Gourmet magazine says this red wine reduction is “a simple yet sultry addition to the caramel that enrobes these apples.”  Delightful to the core!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top Montreal Chef Makes a French Connection with a Wild Ingredient

Chef Jérôme Ferrer is a Montreal chef with a flair for creative, delicious food and a talent for distinctive use of market fresh produce. As Grand Chef at the celebrated Restaurant Europea, a true hot spot of creative, modern cuisine located in a luxurious Victoria Mansion in the heart of the city, Ferrer and his staff of 22 chefs can be found fixing up dishes on the famed menu that provide some of the best edible evidence that food can be turned into art.

The Wild Blueberry Association was fortunate enough to procure Chef Ferrer for some exclusive creations using the beloved wild blueberry as his primary ingredient. The results speak for themselves – they are part of a winning selection of brand new recipes on

Want a taste? Chef Ferrer’s distinctive Foie Gras Cutlets with Wild Blueberry Sauce features a generous helping of wild blueberries, along with puréed parsnips and seared foie gras cutlets. His inspired Lamb Bites with Celeriac Bulb & Wild Blueberry Sauce uses the unique flavor of celery root (he transforms it into “fries”, sautés and seasons it) along with the perfect accompaniment: he reduces wild blueberries with lamb stock and wine to create the sauce. Fantastique!

What’s this French chef’s wild blueberry connection? It’s based in part on wild blueberries being a popular indigenous Canadian crop. Lowbush blueberries are harvested only in Maine and Eastern Canada, meaning the versatile ingredient is right at home in Montreal. It’s also a match made in heaven for a chef who specializes in haute French cuisine. French cooking is known for its sweet indulgences – think crème brûlée, parfaits, sorbets, petit fours and marcarons – and the sweet, complex flavor of wild blueberries fits the bill. Ferrer is an expert on the subject – he is the author of Les Secret des Desserts, which reveals his insider info on creating delectable French-themed desserts. One of those strictly-on-the-QT tips? Create your confection using fresh produce and the best local products.

The creative use of wild blueberries is a particularly perfect fit for the Wild Blueberry kitchen due to Chef Ferrer’s dedication to a “from the market” menu at Europea. His efforts to serve food retrieved daily from fresh local providers is clear from his menu. He provides his signature je ne sais quoi to Quebec-raised veal, Appalachian Coast venison, and dishes such as Lobster Cappuccino Truffles, and North Coast Scallop Crèpes.  

The Wild Blueberry Association consistently works with renowned chefs in order to develop original recipes that combine the creative ideas with the unparalleled taste and nutrition of wild blueberries. You can enjoy more of the European influence in Wild Blueberries à la Crème Brûlée, a blue take on a traditional French classic, and in Warm Wild Blueberry Petit Fours, a breakfast-inspired interpretation of a fave French treat from the Executive Chef of Kennebunkport’s White Barn Inn, Jonathan Cartwright. In light of all the palate-delighting options, only two words come to mind: Bon appétit! 

Discover more new additions to our recipe section! Explore delicious, antioxidant-rich entrée, dessert, snack, and drink options such as Duck, Spinach & Goat Cheese Salad with Savory Wild Blueberry Sauce, Wild Blueberry Clafoutis and Rabbit Stew.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the Heart of Harvest Country, Wild Blueberry Research Intensifies

Last month, Midcoast Maine was a hotbed of exciting, innovative research into some of the most urgent areas of health. Bar Harbor, Maine hosted the 14th annual Wild Blueberry Research Summit this August, an event devoted exclusively to continued research into the role of wild blueberries in critical areas of health.

At the Health Summit, top scientists from the U.S. and Canada, collectively known as the “Bar Harbor Group,” come together each year to present compelling new data to substantiate the connection between a blueberry-rich diet and prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes. This year’s Summit once again delivered on the promise of this heralded little fruit.

Widely known as a "brain food" because of its positive effect on brain health as well as for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities, the wild blueberry continues to be under the microscope as it expands its nutritional promise into areas such as metabolic syndrome, heart and blood vessel health, and diabetes. Researchers who participate in the Summit share current findings from clinical trials and pilot studies, and explore opportunities for future collaborations as they relate to the the berry’s disease-fighting potential.

More than ever, at the heart of this year’s Summit was the impact of diet on our health, our medical care, and our communities. With a nation that is collapsing under the burden of obesity and nutrition-related health issues, it is an important time for nutritional research. The idea that some of the answers to a considerable community health crisis could be found in a little blue globe of fruit is as remarkable as it is exciting. At the center of these discoveries are leading U.S. and Canadian researchers who are active in the fields of neuroscience, aging, cardiovascular disease, cancer, eye health and other health-related areas. Meeting together in Maine, in the middle of wild blueberry country after the harvest season, is particularly fitting.

Part of the compelling new research presented at the Summit included work from Dr. Robert Krikorian of the University of Cincinnati into the connection between wild blueberries and cognitive ability. Krikorian reported on two clinical studies which investigated the effect of a diet supplemented with wild blueberry juice on memory and brain function. Adults in the study had Mild Cognitive Impairment, a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Krikorian and his team treated subjects with 15 to 21 ounces of wild blueberry juice per day. Mood and memory were tested, and findings indicated that the subjects had improved recall and improved learning after 12 weeks. While these early findings require more study, initial results suggests a relationship between the regular consumption of blueberry juice and improved brain function.

Other research presented at the Summit included work from Barbara Shukitt-Hale from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging concerning memory and motor function, Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos of the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the U.K.'s University of Reading into wild blueberry consumption and blood vessel function, and Dr. Catherine M. Champagne, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology/Dietary Assessment at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge into the positive effect of blueberry diet on insulin sensitivity. You can read about some of the Summit’s highlights by reading Annual Health Summit Reveals Promising Benefits of Wild Blueberries.

Each time the Bar Harbor Group comes together, the excitement in the nutritional and scientific fields intensifies. While some of the studies presented at the Summit are in their beginning stages, sharing pilot studies and ongoing clinical trials with such significant potential is the key to moving nutritional research forward and understanding the connections between wild blueberries and disease – especially when they concern diseases that have such a widespread and devastating effect on our population.

Studies into wild blueberries and diseases of aging have already yielded important results. In fact, it’s been since 1998 that these researchers have gathered in Maine to share their data, and past Summits have revealed studies that found positive connections between wild blueberries and satiety, insulin sensitivity, and depression. (Find out more about what we already know about the health benefits of wild blueberries.)

Scientists who study health and nutrition are passionate about understanding wild blueberries’ potential in preventing age-related diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. To what extent they can prevent or forestall these diseases is the mission of researchers like those in attendance at the Summit this year.

It’s an exciting time for the wild blueberry! Find information on research from this year’s Summit at, or read more about the scientists that make up the Bar Harbor Group and their work in the field of disease prevention and healthy aging.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maine Chef Competition Spotlights Farm-to-Table

Harvest on the Harbor, the annual food and wine event that takes place right smack on the harbor in Portland, Maine, is putting the farm-to-table movement in the spotlight by searching out the best farm-to-table chef in this fall’s aptly named "Top of the Crop" competition.

An extraordinary crop of local chefs have been chosen for their best practices in adopting the farm-to-table concept, and they’ll put their talents on the line for a panel of judges that will make the call of who best represents the farm-to-table movement.

The Top of the Crop competition will sound familiar to any cooking show aficionado: chefs on the chopping block will use fresh, organic ingredients and will be required to use one predetermined ingredient, just to make it interesting. The final three competitors will be chosen by the judges from a list of fourteen, and a fourth will be chosen through a “people's choice” competition being conducted online. (Voting opened August 19 and will close September 12 – get involved by voting for your favorite.)

Farm-to-Table: Connecting Consumers with Growers

Top of the Crop is a perfect culinary show-down in a state that always gets a mention when the farm-to-table movement is part of the conversation. Farm-to-table, now recognized as a true movement in the world of chefs and home cooks, gets local food providers and small farmers involved in the process of creating food and delivering it to consumers. The movement is meant to support the sustainable, local food community, and farm-to-table chefs use seasonal, local food as much as possible at their restaurants.

Delivering locally-sourced meals means connecting people to what they eat and to the people who grow what they eat, in addition to supporting local communities, and, very often, health. Local food is fresh, making it nutrient-rich, and it is chosen on the basis of being free of harmful chemicals. And, this food movement is about more than just fruits and vegetables. Locally, naturally raised cattle, lamb, pig and chicken, artisan cheese, bread, and other foods such as mushrooms and eggs, all collude to make farm-to-table meals.

Farm-to-table eating has become a recent trend, but it’s Alice Waters who is credited as an originator with Chez Panisse, her farm-to-table business in California. Since then, the number of farm-to-table restaurants has grown, and today, restaurateurs pride themselves on their ability to offer consumers food from a kitchen with farm-to-table ideals. Now, many establishments offer entire meals sourced locally including making bread in-house, and freshly picking vegetables daily – even the mayonnaise that goes on the sandwiches can be made in-house with local ingredients.

Maine Moves Farm-to-Table Forward

In Maine, the movement is growing, thanks to the opportunities the state offers: great seafood, naturally raised meats, small farms that offer poultry, cheeses, eggs and produce, and plenty of indigenous offerings like wild blueberries. The movement received a push from early adopters such as local James Beard Award winners Mark Gairer and Clark Frasier from Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit – the two will host the Top of the Crop event – and the number of restaurants committed to using locally-sourced foods has grown.

While some restaurants use local foods exclusively and even have their own gardens, many put local fish meat and produce straight from area fisherman and farmers on the menu as often as they deem possible. Cinque Terre in Portland, for example, has received national attention as a Maine restaurant known for its farm-to-table practices. The restaurant’s own garden supplies it, and 80% of its ingredients are grown on-premises. (They even make their own cheese and smoke meats.)

For those who love competitive cooking, Harvest on the Harbor will also host the Lobster Chef of the Year Competition where chefs show off the ultimate in lobster creativity. Attendees can also enjoy events such as The Ultimate Seafood Splash! where Maine’s top chefs and fishermen prepare seafood from coastal Maine. On top of it all, attendees take part in tastings and sample a profusion of locally grown foods, food artisans, wines and brews, and Maine-made products – it's truly a foodie wonderland.

Harvest on the Harbor is being held October 20-22, 2011 in Portland, Maine.