The country’s indigenous berries as potential functional foods against non-communicable diseases is now being explored under the two projects supported by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said the DOST-PCHRD is giving its all-out support to BerryPinoy program under its Functional Food Program to explore the potentials of Philippine indigenous berries —bignay and lipote— as functional foods.

Bignay (Manila Bulletin file photo)

The Council’s Functional Food Program focuses on research on crops and food products that have possible health advantages beyond their distinctive nutritional benefits for the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

The BerryPinoy Program studies the antioxidant properties of local berries and their ability to address obesity and associated metabolic disorders including dyslipidemia, inflammation and oxidative stress,” De la Peña said during his weekly report on Friday, July 16.

The program has two component projects— “Philippine Indigenous Berries: Bioactive components and in vitro biochemical activities” and the “Philippine Indigenous Berries: In Vivo Studies on Toxicity and Effects on Biomarkers of Obesity and Associated Metabolic Disorders (Dyslipidemia, Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress”.

The first project is spearheaded by Dr. Katherine Castillo-Israel from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) College of Agriculture and Food Science.

Lipote (Photo from Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau DENR)

“It aims to establish the profile of the bioactive components and bioactivity of Philippine indigenous berries, namely, lipote and two varieties of bignay, and to determine if processing methods affect the bioactivity of the raw materials,” de la Peña said.

He noted that Castillo-Israel’s team found that the antioxidant content and activity of the berry samples are greatly affected by maturity.

“Fully ripe flesh and seed parts of bignay small and bignay big showed the highest antioxidant content and activity, but unripe lipote flesh and seeds have appreciable phenolic and flavonoid content and DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hydrazyl-hydrate) activity.”

“The antioxidant content and activities of the blanched berry samples registered higher than that of unprocessed and steamed berries,” he added.

On the other hand, the second project aims to investigate the in vivo oral toxicity of bignay and lipote and the effects of these berries on biomarkers of obesity and associated metabolic disorders including dyslipidemia, inflammation and oxidative stress in vivo.

It is implemented by Dr. Liezl M. Atienza of the UP Los Banos College of Human Ecology, Institute of Human Nutrition and Food.

“Upon investigation of the nutritional content, lipote contains high amounts of vitamins (C and E), minerals (boron, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, nickel, lead, and zinc) per 100 grams of freeze-dried sample,” de la Peña said.

“Phytochemical screening showed presence of cardiac glycosides, coumarins, flavonoids, phenols, phlobatannins, quinones, terpenoids, and saponins.”

The DOST chief said Atienza’s group also examined acute and sub-chronic toxicity.

“The bignay varieties and lipote were fed to animal models wherein no clinical and behavioral signs of toxicity were observed. There was zero morbidity and mortality as well as lesions on various organs examined,” he said.

The research team also found that repeated oral administrations of freeze-dried duhat and lipote fruits for 28 days are safe for consumption.

“The project team is still completing the nutritional property evaluation and efficacy studies against metabolic syndrome (MetS),” de la Peña said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (