Super Berry Research

Hello all!

I am so excited! We were able to get an interview from someone very respected in the world of research. As we announced earlier, the year 2017 is themed #eatsupercolors for NordicNordic and I think this interview will help you understand why we chose the theme.

Laura Jaakola

So, let me introduce Laura Jaakola to you. I've known her and her family for the past 25 years. We happened to bump into each other last week in Oulu, Finland and she was very excited to hear what Reeta and I were up to and how we are building our future around super berries.

Laura is a researcher recognized worldwide for her work with Finnish super berries and their health benefits. She also has researchers around the world she works with that are interested in the arctic berries. Laura wanted to tell me right away that Nordic bilberries contain the highest level of anthocyanin and the arctic winters and nightless summers add to the high level even more. So, arctic berries truly are superfoods!

Before I share the interview, I wanted to also highlight Laura's publication from 2011. It's an interesting piece that explores Nordic berries from biological but also from cultural and historical points of view. She partnered with Hannele Klemettila for this.Just make sure to switch it in English before reading :)

Laura isn't only interested innovative research of the health benefits of berries but also wants to show their role in people's lives in history. I can't find enough cool words to describe her...! But let me turn it over to her.

1. What’s your background and what made you be interested in researching berries?

I am a plant physiologist and a molecular biologist graduated from the University of Oulu, Finland. I did my Master thesis about micropropagation of bilberry and lingonberry in 1997 and continued studying the biosynthesis of bioactive compounds in wild berries in my PhD thesis, which I finished in 2003. Since then my research has mainly focused on berries, also in my present job as Professor and Research leader at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Berries are delicious and healthy food ingredients. Wild berries growing in the Nordic countries are traditional raw material that has a great potential to be utilized much better than they are utilized so far.

2. Are there differences in berries from around the world?

There are differences in berries from around the word. Different berry species and cultivars grow in different parts of the world. Nordic wild berries grow in clean boreal forests and they are fully packed with health beneficial compounds. In fact, our studies have shown that berries that are more northern contain higher levels of health beneficial compounds.

3.  Why are berries great for your health?

Berries in general contain high yields of health beneficial compounds. Berries are one of the best sources of phenolic compounds, which are known to possess high antioxidative properties. Berries are also good sources of vitamins and fibers. Many studies have shown health benefits in daily consumption of berries, for instance in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

4. How do you incorporate berries into your own life?

I eat berries every morning with yogurt. Preferably wild Nordic berries, especially bilberries and lingonberries.

5. What’s your favorite berry recipe?

I actually like to have berries as fresh, frozen or dried without added sugar. If I bake, it is a traditional bilberry pie with sour cream on the top.

6. What would you like to have everyone understand about berries?

That berries are excellent functional food as such – tasty and healthy.

A huge thank you to Laura for talking with us! We are so thankful to share the information and for her to take time out of her busy schedule to share why Finnish berries should be part of every day nutrition.

With health,

Nina