Berries for Brain Health

August 21, 2012

Are you forgetful? Well new research reminds us to not forget to eat our berries, as they may help with age related memory loss. Find out here

Summer is in full swing and berry season is here! We know berries are great for our health and a recent study found that eating berries may help slow age-related memory loss.

Women with the highest intake of blueberries and/or strawberries showed about one and half to two and half years of delays in cognitive aging; i.e. thinking, remembering, and reasoning. Researchers measured cognitive function in over 16 thousand women through telephone interviews, as part of the famous Nurses Health Study. They were tested on their recall of the order of words or numbers in a list or highlights of a paragraph. Diet questionnaires were also compiled from 1976 to 2001.

One of the study’s author Dr. Elizabeth Devore, with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School commented, “We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.”

So how many berries should we eat to prevent cognitive decline? The women who ate the most berries were eating a half-cup of blueberries or two half-cup servings of strawberries a week. Now that’s encouraging!

Do take note that it might not have been just the berries, as those in the highest berry consumption category also tended to have higher levels of physical activity compared with those who ate the least. Other lifestyle factors were also taken into account.

What’s so great about berries?
Berries contain flavonoids, which are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to the study’s authors, berries contain the flavonoid anthocyanidin which can cross the blood into the brain's hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory. Flavonoids are also found in other food and drinks such as citrus fruits, tea, red wine, and onions – and these were all taken into account in the study.

SupermarketGuru suggests shopping for a rainbow of produce, as the different colors and plant compounds are going to have various health boosting effects. Head to the freezer aisles to compare prices and even shop for desired veggies that may not be in season. Luckily the produce aisles are full of great fruit and veggies.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute and the California Strawberry Commission.

For more click here.
Stay tuned for an article on chocolate's benefit on cognitive function!