(NaturalNews) A meeting of the world's leading scientific researchers in the area of berries and their health benefits has revealed an array of new information on how they may prevent and fight disease, including cancer, heart disease and brain aging. Twenty top experts in the field met at the 2009 Berry Health Benefits Symposium in Monterey, California in order to share the latest findings on how berries may positively impact human health and illness.
Several research groups presented trials demonstrating the benefits of strawberries and other berries for heart disease. Dr Britt Burton-Freeman of the Illinois Institute of Technology revealed findings from a study demonstrating that individuals given a strawberry drink with a high fat meal were strongly protected from the damaging post-eating effects it would otherwise have had on the heart, while a trial by Iris Erlund of National Public Health Institute in Finland demonstrated that a 160g daily combination of strawberries with other berries was able to lower blood pressure and increase 'good' HDL cholesterol in trial participants. 
Meanwhile, a team headed by Roger Corder of the William Harvey Research Institute in London showed that cranberry juice and red wine are equally effective at protecting blood vessels in aging citizens. 
There was also potentially exciting new evidence in the field of cancer research. A study presented by Dr Francisco Tomas-Barberan of the University of Murica in Spain looked into the protective effect of berries
on the colon. Results revealed that the fruits were able to exert a strong inflammation-controlling effect and may even have significant anti-colon cancer properties.
A collaborative study between Dr James Joseph of Tufts University and Dr Robert Krikorian from the University of Cincinnati indicated that elderly people with memory loss given blueberry juice twice a day (up to 12 ounces for 12 weeks) showed significant improvements in memory, recall and other aspects of cognition.
Finally, there was interesting new information on how blueberry juice may protect eye health. Dr Wilhemina Colt of the Canadian federal agriculture department, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, presented a study demonstrating that subjects given a large glass of blueberry juice each day were able to protect their eyes and recover far more quickly from potentially-damaging bright light than those who were not.
There was important information too, on how consumers can gain the most benefit from their berry products. Research by Dr Luke Howard of the University of Arkansas revealed that sugar-free jams preserve the beneficial berry far better than conventional high sugar jams. 
"We continue to be encouraged by new research that confirms that the dietary intake of berry fruits has a positive and profound impact on overall health, performance and disease
," concluded Dr. Joseph, who is the Director of the Neuroscience Laboratory, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
"This is an exciting time for both researchers and consumers as we continue to discover new ways to promote optimal health." 
 Erlund I, Koli R, Alfthan G, Marniemi J, Puukka P, Mustonen P, Mattila P, Jula A. Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008; 87:323-31.
 Corder R. Red wine, chocolate and vascular health: developing the evidence base. Heart 2008; 94: 821 - 823.
 Brownmiller, C.R., Howard, L.R., Prior, R.L. 2009. Processing and storage effects on procyanidin composition and concentration of processed blueberry products. J. Agric. Food Chem. (in-press)
About the author
Michael Jolliffe is a freelance writer based in Oxford, UK.