But yesterday it was claimed that consumption of these berries might have beneficial effects on a range of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases and cancers.
Speaking at the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) winter meeting, Dr Gordon McDougall, a research scientist at the James Hutton Institute, said: “Recent work has provided evidence that polyphenols from berries can have a range of beneficial effects on food digestion.”
He added new berry varieties with improved properties could be bred in the future, or new products formulated for specific health benefits.
At the same meeting, Dr Andreas Kolb, senior research fellow at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, said: “Using model systems and human studies, we are investigating the mechanisms by which berry bio-active compounds support cardiovascular health, weight management and the control of blood glucose levels relevant to type 2 diabetes.”
Commenting on these views, Alison Dolan, secretary of the SSCR soft fruit subcommittee, stressed their importance with conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease resulting in greatly increased pressures on health services.
The public appear to be cottoning on to eating more soft fruit, with strawberry production in the UK rising 6 per cent last year to just under 90,000 tonnes. Blackberry production rose 9 per cent and blueberries 18 per cent – with much smaller tonnages.