A three-year study of two saskatoon varieties commonly grown in Saskatchewan, Smokey and Thiessen, has shown that the antioxidant activity of the saskatoon berry is comparative to that of the blueberry, blackberry and grape seed extract. This is exciting news for the Saskatchewan Saskatoon berry industry, says Kelley Fitzpatrick, president, Saskatchewan Nutraceutical Network.
“The colour components in fruits and vegetables represent almost 2,500 constituents, many of which have been shown in clinical studies to protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration. These constituents are known as antioxidants,” says Fitzpatrick.
“The antioxidant activities of fruits such as cranberries and blueberries are actively exploited by producers and processors of blueberries and cranberries, and the results of the saskatoon study offer similar opportunities for the Saskatchewan saskatoon industry: the information in the report can lead to the use of saskatoon berries and saskatoon berry extract in functional foods, nutraceuticals and natural health products.”
The study, Chemical Characterization and Antioxidant Evaluation of Saskatoon Berries, was carried out by Dr. David Kitts, professor, Food Chemistry and Toxicology, Food, Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia.
Kitts’s final report states, “. . . it is clear that the saskatoon berry exhibits antioxidant activity based on its anthrocyanin and phenolic composition. The antioxidant activity of the saskatoon berry was comparative with that obtained for blueberry, blackberry and a grape-seed extract. The activity was less than that observed for pure tea extract and commercial antioxidants such as Trolox™.”
The final report also recommends more research work to “determine if a concentrate of Saskatoon berry extract can be made which will improve further its antioxidant potential.” Kitts suggests more research is needed to ensure quality assurance and standardization of saskatoon products for future commercialisation as well. Drying experiments are currently underway to determine the best method of drying saskatoon berries to retain antioxidant and sensory quality.
The saskatoon berry project was supported by Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization’s Agriculture Development Fund. Riverbend Plantation Inc. of Saskatoon also provided support. Riverbend, which includes 14 acres of saskatoons, is a food processor with 40 products distributed across Canada.
“We think that investing in research is an important aspect of market development,” says Grace Whittington, Riverbend’s chief operating officer. “Our business is based on new and innovative products, and the nutraceutical properties of saskatoon berries are features that should be further developed.”
Kelley Fitzpatrick, President
Saskatchewan Nutraceutical Network
105 North Road
Saskatoon, Sask., S7N 4L5
Dr. David Kitts, Professor
Food Chemistry and Toxicology, Food, Nutrition and Health
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia
6650 N.W. Marine Drive
Vancouver, B.C., N6T 1Z4
Grace Whittington, Chief Operating Officer
Riverbend Plantation Inc.
Box 95, RR #3
Saskatoon, Sask., S7K 3J6