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Sea buckthorn berries have untapped potential as a superfood

In the search for the next superfood, Canadian sea buckthorn berries are emerging as a powerful contender. Additionally, they show promising benefits for managing diabetes and obesity.

A recent study focused on this underexplored shrub reveals its rich antioxidant content and significant potential for health benefits.

The untapped potential of sea buckthorn

Originating from the coasts of northwestern Europe and the temperate regions of central Asia, sea buckthorn is a thorny, deciduous plant renowned for the nutritional and medicinal properties of its berries and leaves.

The plants contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are crucial for heart health and cognitive function. Additionally, these parts of the plant are rich in vitamins E, B, and A – essential nutrients that support skin health, energy levels, and vision.

The berries and leaves are also packed with polyphenols, antioxidants that protect against cellular damage and offer various health benefits. Despite its popularity in Asia and northwestern Europe, North America has yet to fully embrace this superfood.

Recent research led by Professor Fereidoon Shahidi at Memorial University of Newfoundland advances the understanding and promotion of sea buckthorn in North America. PhD student Renan Danielski emphasized the crop’s distinctive qualities and its potential for success in North America.

A closer look at Canadian sea buckthorn

The experts meticulously analyzed the composition of sea buckthorn, with a particular focus on polyphenols. Consequently, the team’s analysis of Canadian sea buckthorn compounds underscores their commitment to global comparison and market establishment in North America.

Professor Shahidi emphasized the importance of educating consumers about the cultivar’s benefits, which could significantly enhance its market presence.

The research revealed that the pomace and seeds of sea buckthorn are rich in beneficial polyphenols, providing cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Additionally, the team discovered that the berry’s polyphenolic content varies by geography, with uniquely potent compounds in Newfoundland. This finding points to an exciting avenue for future research.

Health benefits and future research

The antidiabetic and anti-obesity potential of sea buckthorn extracts is particularly promising. Consequently, this opens up opportunities for more detailed investigations into how they work and their possible uses in therapy.

Furthermore, Danielski highlighted the need for more research on the positive effects of sea buckthorn polyphenols on human health. Should future animal and human studies validate these benefits, sea buckthorn may become key in combating conditions like diabetes and obesity.

A sustainable and health-enhancing option

The findings from this study position sea buckthorn berries as a valuable source of natural antioxidants in North America. As consumer interest in functional foods and nutraceuticals grows, sea buckthorn emerges as a sustainable and health-enhancing alternative.

More about sea buckthorn berries

Sea buckthorn berries are small, orange-yellow fruits that grow on shrubs of the genus Hippophae. These berries are known for their high nutrient content and have been used for centuries in traditional medicine across Europe and Asia. 

Vitamin content

They’re particularly notable for their high vitamin C content, which can be several times higher than that of oranges. Sea buckthorn berries are also rich in various vitamins (like vitamins A, E, and B), minerals, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids (omega-3, -6, -7, and -9), making them a highly regarded superfood.

Common uses

The berries have a tart, tangy taste and can be eaten raw, though their sharp flavor may not be palatable to everyone. They’re more commonly used in processed forms such as juices, oils, syrups, and supplements. 

Sea buckthorn oil, extracted from the berries or seeds, is particularly valued in cosmetic and skin care products for its hydrating and rejuvenating properties.

Health benefits 

Beyond their nutritional benefits, sea buckthorn berries have been researched for their potential health benefits, which include supporting heart health, skin health, and immune function. The berries’ antioxidants may help reduce inflammation, combat oxidative stress, and support overall health.

Cultivation of sea buckthorn plants is also environmentally beneficial, as the plants are hardy, resistant to pollution, and can help prevent soil erosion. This makes sea buckthorn an interesting plant both from an ecological and an agricultural standpoint.

The study is published in the journal Science of Food and Agriculture.


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