We get excited about berries here at Pill Advised, and so read with interest the latest scientific review of berry brain benefits from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Strong scientific evidence exists that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes, scientists report.
Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D., and Marshall G. Miller, from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, explain that recent research increasingly shows that eating berry fruits can benefit the aging brain. To analyze the strength of the evidence about berry fruits, they extensively reviewed cellular, animal and human studies on the topic.
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The authors explain “ Importantly, new evidence shows that berry fruits can reduce cognitive deficits among older adults. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a clinical designation that describes a degree of mental decline having severity between that of normal aging and dementia. A diagnosis of MCI is a strong risk factor for dementia.”
Their review concluded that berry fruits help the brain stay healthy in several ways.
Berry fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, compounds that protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals.
The two also report that berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition.
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They suggest that further research will show whether these benefits are a result of individual compounds shared between berry fruits or whether the unique combinations of chemicals in each berry fruit simply have similar effects.
They note: “In conclusion, berry fruits possess neuroavailable, neuroactive phytochemicals that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and direct effects on the brain.”
J. Agric. Food Chem., DOI: 10.1021/jf2036033, Publication Date (Web): January 23, 2012, “Berry Fruit Enhances Beneficial Signaling in the Brain” Marshall G. Miller and Barbara Shukitt-Hale USDA-ARS, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, 711 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, United States