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Researchers Discover: Berries A Good Brain Food

Strawberries and blueberries are plentiful, delicious and relatively cheap right now, and if those aren’t reason enough to snap them up, here’s another: Brain function declines at a slower pace among longtime berry eaters.

Research reported in the “Annals of Neurology” journal reveals that women who ate berries more frequently over many years had slower decline in memory and attention when older than women who ate them less often. The research suggests that berries may help keep brains healthy but does not confirm that eating the fruits prevents dementia associated with aging, or slows down Alzheimer’s, according to a Time article.

In the study, a research team led by Elizabeth Devore, an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, reviewed the eating habits of 16,000 women participating in the Nurses Health Study. Every four years during their 50s and 60s, the women answered questions about what they ate. In their 70s, the women underwent six tests of cognitive function.

Their study found that women who ate berries at least once a week were able to slow cognitive decline by about 1.5 to 2.5 years. For blueberries, it took at least half a cup of berries weekly; with strawberries, it was about a cup.

Devore focused on berries because earlier rodent studies showed that a key compound in berries, the flavonoid anthocyanidin, could seep through blood and into the brain, especially into the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory. Flavonoids also fight inflammation and oxidation, which affect aging brain cells.

Further study is needed, but Devore said adding blueberries or strawberries, either fresh or frozen, is sensible. “I don’t think there are many downsides to that,” she said.

Source: Time

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by Dr. Stephanie Oberhelman