Forest berries and mushrooms have many nutritional qualities. They contain important minerals and vitamins. Berries and mushrooms are also rich in fibre but low in calories.
The low calorie-content, nutritional composition and fibre-content make berries an excellent part of a healthy diet. Berries are also rich in polyphenols, which are believed to boost our well-being in many ways.
Polyphenols, i.e. phenolic compounds, are potent antioxidants. For example, they may prevent cholesterol from oxidising and becoming the type that will line the insides of our veins. They are also thought to slow down the growth of cancer cells, reduce the formation of tumours, and control inflammatory and allergic reactions and the growth of bacteria and viruses.
Several international and Finnish studies have found that eating berries promotes health. According to studies, eating generous amounts of berries reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Berries also have a positive impact on the factors that cause cardiovascular diseases and probably prevent bacterial inflammations.
Mushrooms are also nutritionally valuable. Mushrooms are a particularly good source of protein. Nutritionally, they contain more protein and amino acids than vegetables. Mushrooms are also rich in fibre; the Penny Bun bolete (Boletus edulis) is a particularly good source of fibre. Mushrooms contain vitamins D and K, along with several B-group vitamins such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine and cobalamin.
Mushrooms also contain other bioactive compounds and antioxidants that may be able to activate the immune system and prevent cancer.
Diverse research into forest berries and mushrooms
The aim of the research carried out by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is to develop new business opportunities based on harvested products such as berries and mushrooms, and generate information to support the sustainable, multiple use of forests. Research is also conducted on ensuring the pollination of forest berries.
Among other issues, Luke is studying the nutritional contents of forest berries and mushrooms and the bioactive compounds in them. Bioactive compounds may affect our health. The studies explore the isolation of bioactive compounds from forest berries and potential product applications. Product applications may include care products, dietary supplements and even pharmaceuticals.
Our research can be utilised by companies in the natural product industry, consumers and the science world.
Picture on top of the page: Erkki Oksanen, Luke