UVic researcher discovers Salal berry's health benefits

Blueberries, cranberries and strawberries have a new berry joining them in the "superfood" category.

Peter Constabel, a plant biologist and UVic professor, led a research team in studying the health benefits of salal berries. The berries are found throughout the coastal region of North America in coniferous forests and have higher levels of antioxidants than many other berries.

"We found that the tanins, for example, are extraordinarily high," Constabel said. "They're very high levels, five times higher than blueberries, which we used as a comparator, higher than most other berries and other kinds of fruit. That's important because those tanins are often linked to antioxidant activity."

Salal, which has historically been used by First Nations communities, may be healthy but they're not the most palatable of fruit, according to Constabel.

"I have to be honest and say it probably doesn't taste as delicious as a blueberry," Constabel said. "It's mealier, has more texture, it's chewier or leathery. It can be very sweet and juicy if it's found in the right location, and other places it might taste a little bit drier."

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