In the booming health food sector, how often does something entirely new and unique come onto the market?
Enter the amazing and very tasty haskap berry…
Haskap berries have only become available to buy in the UK over the last few years. However, the berries have a long history of being eaten in Asia, and their popularity is now growing in Europe and North America.
The haskap is a tangy-sweet blue-skinned berry that grows in cold regions round the world.
Everyone knows that berries are good for you, but haskap berries have some superior nutritional qualities which makes them stand out from the rest. Indeed, the berries were used in traditional medicine and were known as the ‘berry of long life’ by the indigenous Ainu people of northern Japan.
Medicine today is increasingly recognising the power of nutrition to improve health and wellbeing, and help to prevent, treat and even reverse some of the chronic diseases associated with our 21st century lifestyles.
So, as well as the delicious flavour and deep purple hue, here are 5 science backed reasons why everyone should incorporate haskap berries into their daily diet:
1: Four times more anthocyanins than a blueberry!
It’s all about the colour.
Anthocyanins - pronounced an-tho-sigh-an-ins (from the Greek anthos, a flower, and kyanos, dark blue) - are the naturally occurring plant pigments that give fruit & vegetables their deep purple, blue and red colours. Whereas blueberries are pale green inside, our haskap berries have a double blue skin and a deep crimson flesh. Most of the anthocyanins are in the skins, so the double blue skin plus crimson flesh packs an anthocyanin punch.
Anthocyanins are associated with many important properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, plus brain and heart protective effects. Researchers believe that most of us are not eating enough anthocyanins in our diets, with Southern European countries -eating a Mediterranean diet- consuming more than Northern European countries like the UK. Haskap berries are a great way to increase your daily anthocyanin intake.
2: Three times more antioxidants than a blueberry
Antioxidants in food are natural compounds found in certain foods, which can help our bodies fight the damage caused by potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals.
These free radicals are generated as a result of normal biological processes occurring every day in our cells. The mismatch of too many free radicals and too few antioxidants can lead to a state known as oxidative stress, when damage can occur to DNA and other structures in our cells.
Oxidative stress is believed to play a role in the development of many chronic diseases. It is thought antioxidants in our diet can help fight chronic oxidative stress associated with the development of these chronic diseases and haskap berries can play a part.
3: High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods including oranges, bell peppers, kiwi fruit and haskap berries. We are unable to make Vitamin C in our bodies and need to obtain this essential nutrient through their diets. Vitamin C has a myriad of vital functions in our bodies including supporting our immune systems and the normal function of blood vessels. Haskap berries contain high levels of Vitamin C content with published values higher than many other fruits.
4: What’s good for the heart is good for the brain
The good news is that many scientists believe that anthocyanins are a promising nutrient in the crusade to reduce heart disease and cognitive decline as we age.
A 2017 review concluded that a diet rich in anthocyanins was associated with a reduced risk of dying from all causes and specifically from heart and circulatory diseases. Anthocyanins are thought to act on the cardiovascular system by a combination of mechanisms including increasing nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide functions by dilating our blood vessels helping to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Improving blood flow is important for our brains as well as our hearts. Results from a review of 18 clinical trials looked at the effect of berry anthocyanins on cognitive performance, and showed significant improvements in memory, with some studies also reporting positive effects on attention and psychomotor speed or executive function. The researchers thought anthocyanins worked by combating inflammation and protecting brain cells from toxins, as well as increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery.
The first clinical pilot study looking at the effect of haskap berries on memory and blood pressure showed similar results with improvements in memory (word recall and recognition) and diastolic blood pressure.
5: Improves exercise performance
Professor Glyn Howatson’s team at Northumbria University have published ground-breaking research into the effects of haskap berries on human performance after strenuous sporting activity.
They conducted a series of endurance tests on 30 male recreational runners and discovered that it took longer for athletes who had consumed haskap berries to fatigue (or reach the point of exhaustion) compared with those who hadn’t. In a subsequent test of their speed over a 5-kilometre distance (the same distance as the globally popular ParkRun), runners who had consumed the berries also saw their overall time improve by 21 seconds. The research team thought that the underlying mechanism of action was the berry’s ability to combat exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress, plus improve vascular function and oxygen utilisation or indeed a combination of all three.
Amazingly these results were seen after taking two teaspoons of Haskapa powder daily, stirred into yoghurt, for only one week.
The power of purple
You already know that berries are good for you, so make sure you pick the right one! Haskaps are a new and tasty addition to the range of berries available to the health-conscious consumer and pack an exciting nutritional punch.
Every teaspoon of Haskapa Berry Powder contains around 23 berries, which makes it an easy and delicious way to get the benefit of berries into your diet.
- Rupasinghe HPV, Yu LJ, Bhullar KS and Bors B. (2012). Haskap (Lonicera caerulea): A new berry crop with high antioxidant capacity. Can. J. Plant Sci., 92: 1311–1317
- Rupasinghe HPV, Arumuggam N, Amararathna M, De Silva ABKH. (2018) The potential health benefits of haskap (Lonicera caerulea): Role of cyanidin-3-O-glucoside. Journal of Functional Foods. 44. 24-39. 10.1016/j.jff.2018.02.023.
- Ahles S, Joris PJ, Plat J. Effects of Berry Anthocyanins on Cognitive Performance, Vascular Function and Cardiometabolic Risk Markers: A Systematic Review of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Intervention Studies in Humans. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 17;22(12):6482. doi: 10.3390/ijms22126482. PMID: 34204250; PMCID: PMC8234025.
A pilot dose–response study of the acute effects of haskap berry extract (Lonicera caerulea) on cognition, mood, and blood pressure in older adults. Bell, L. & Williams, C.M. Eur JNutr (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-018-1877-9
- Howatson G, Snaith GC, Kimble R, Cowper G, Keane KM. Improved Endurance Running Performance Following Haskap Berry (Lonicera caerulea) Ingestion. Nutrients. 2022; 14(4):780.https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14040780
- 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, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz065 (Published: 22 July 2019)