Health Benefits of Haskap Berries
Haskaps are an excellent source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Fiber and Potassium.
Also known as Blue Honeysuckle, Sweet Berry Honeysuckle and Honeyberry the scientific name is Lonicera caerulea L. Haskap berries have been consumed by the indigenous Ainu people from Hokkaido, Japan for centuries and are proposed to contribute to their life longevity; they call Haskaps the “fruit of longevity” and the “fruit of vision.”
The haskap berry’s unique tangy fruit flavour includes hints of raspberry, blueberry and black currant. On the surface this berry has the colour of a blueberry and is oblong or oval in shape.
The inside flesh of the berry is a rich maroon colour and very juicy. The skin is very delicate and the seeds are tiny giving the fruit a "melt-in-your-mouth" quality. It's tart flavour is clean and refreshing.
The Science Behind Haskap Berries...
What are Anthocyanins?
Haskap berries are a rich source of cyanidin-3-O-glucoside (C3G), which is a naturally occurring anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are good antioxidants for preventing or reducing the risk of disease. Anthocyanin-rich berries are also known for their benefit to the eyes and are often associated with good night vision. Anthocyanins possess anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-obesity effects, as well as prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Do Haskaps Contain Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant and helps your body form and maintain connective tissue like skin and bones.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, which means your body needs it but can’t make it on its own. Instead, you have to get vitamin C from the foods you eat — namely, fruits and vegetables. 100 grams of haskap berries contains 60% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
What Are Antioxidants and Free Radicals?
Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body and found in foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules and are normal byproducts formed in your body in response to stress and inflammation. They can also be a result of environmental factors, like air pollution, cigarette smoke, certain chemicals, UV radiation (direct sunlight), etc. Free radicals steal an electron from the molecules in your skin cells, or from your blood cells or from wherever they can, which causes damage to surrounding cells.
When free radicals accumulate, they can cause oxidative stress. This may damage your DNA and other important structures in your cells. Chronic oxidative stress can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
What Are The Benefits of Antioxidants?
The primary benefit of antioxidants is their ability to safely react with free radicals before damage can be done on a cellular level. Basically, antioxidants “fight” free radicals .
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help increase your blood antioxidant levels to decrease oxidative stress and reduce the risk of these diseases.
Scientists use several tests to measure the antioxidant content of foods.
Two of the most common tests are the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) and the FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) analyses.
The higher the values, the more antioxidants the food contains. In both tests, all three varieties of haskap berries that were tested had significantly higher antioxidant levels than the other six fruits.
In the ORAC test results below, the three haskap varieties on the left have up to 1.6 times more antioxidants than blueberries and over four times more than strawberries.
In the FRAP antioxidant test, the haskap berries had almost three times more antioxidants than blueberries.
Can Haskap Berries Improve Physical Performance in Athletes?
Plants have long since been utilized as medicinal sources and ergogenic aids. As early as 668 BC the ancient Greeks reportedly used mushrooms, dried figs and various wine concoctions to enhance sporting performance. More recently, there has been a growing research focus into bioactive fruit and vegetable compounds that might improve cardiovascular health and physical performance. In particular, an emergent body of evidence suggests that dietary anthocyanins and (poly)phenols might improve physiological aspects of physical performance in recreational and well-trained athletic population.
In several studies, it was found that C3G affects vascular function, inflammation and oxidative stress. Given the properties associated with C3G, which is abundant in haskap berries, Professor Glyn Howatson from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University wanted to investigate if haskap berries would provide a performance benefit for endurance running.
The study included 30 non-smoking males between the ages of 18 and 45. The study showed for the first time that Haskap berry consumption can improve time to exhaustion and 5 km time is improved by approximately 20 seconds, which is a performance improvement of >2%, compared to a placebo control.
Modest changes at lower intensities suggest better exercise efficiency that might be made possible through improved vascular function or management of exercise-induced oxidative stress, although these remain to be demonstrated.
These data on Haskap berry add to the growing body of evidence that dietary (poly)phenolic-rich foods could be helpful to enhance athletic performance, and critically offer exercisers a practical, non-pharmacological, food-based solution to support training and competition.
Some of The Health Benefits...
- Reduce blood pressure
- Relieve gastrointestinal disorders
- Cardio protectant by maintaining vascular permeability, reducing inflammation, reducing atherosclerotic plaques, and platelet aggregation (clotting).
- Protects against Carcinogenesis
- Has anti-angiogensis properties which means starving the deadly cancer cells.
- Diets rich in polyphenols are known to reduce cancer among high-risk populations. Haskap berries have abundant phenolic acids and flavonoids, especially anthocyanins.
- Reduces blood glucose levels after food intake
- Improves eye health by increasing circulation within retinal capillaries, enhancing night vision, fighting macular degeneration and preventing retinopathy for diabetic patients.
Information on this website was acquired through the below resources:Haskap: An Introduction to the Fruit, It’s Health Benefits, and Marketing Possibiliteis. By Kirsten Larson 2009
Healthline, 12 Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-antioxidants
MDPI and ACS Style
Howatson, G.; Snaith, G.C.; Kimble, R.; Cowper, G.; Keane, K.M. Improved Endurance Running Performance Following Haskap Berry (Lonicera caerulea L.) Ingestion. Nutrients 2022, 14, 780. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14040780
Cleveland Clinic. Dec 27, 2021.. Everything You Need To Know About Antioxidants. Antioxidants pose no risk to your health, only rewards. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-do-antioxidants-do/
Cleveland Clinic. April 10, 2023..17 Foods That Are High in Vitamin C. Move over, oranges! You can also get vitamin C from strawberries, kiwi and green veggies. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sources-of-vitamin-c/
Berry Fruits as a source of Biologically active compounds: The case of Lanicera Caerulea, Irena Svarcova, Biomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub. 2007, 151(2):163–174
Science Direct: Anthocyanin-rich haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) berry extracts reduce nitrosamine-induced DNA damage in human normal lung epithelial cells in vitro
Science Direct: The potential health benefits of haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.): Role of cyanidin-3-O-glucoside
H.P. Vasantha Rupasinghe, Niroshaathevi Arumuggam, Madumani Amararathna, A.B.K.H. De Silva,. The potential health benefits of haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.): Role of cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 44, 2018, Pages 24-39, ISSN 1756-4646, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2018.02.023.
Khoo HE, Azlan A, Tang ST, Lim SM. Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food Nutr Res. 2017 Aug 13;61(1):1361779. doi: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779. PMID: 28970777; PMCID: PMC5613902.
RupasingheH. P. Vasantha, YuLi Juan, BhullarKhushwant S., and BorsBob. 2012. Short Communication: Haskap (Lonicera caerulea): A new berry crop with high antioxidant capacity. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 92(7): 1311-1317. https://doi.org/10.4141/cjps2012-073
Bell, L., Williams, C.M. A pilot dose–response study of the acute effects of haskap berry extract (Lonicera caerulea L.) on cognition, mood, and blood pressure in older adults. Eur J Nutr 58, 3325–3334 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-018-1877-9