Berries for Brain Health
by A. Grano
Research has suggested for years that strawberries, blueberries and blackberries may help restore cognitive functioning and prevent age-related memory loss, which has been accelerating in recent years due to factors such as poor diet, pollution, and lifestyle habits.
New research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry supports this theory, as lead researcher Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale of the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Tufts University said that berries have “neuro-available, neuro-active phytochemicals that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and direct effects on the brain.”
This boost to brain health comes from the berries’ support of multiple metabolic systems in the body, including maintaining cellular function, as the high levels of antioxidants help protect the brain from harmful oxidative effects of free radicals.
In addition, the researchers found that consumption of certain berries may actually modify neuron communication and brain signals. This in turn negates some of the inflammation that can contribute to neuron damage, thus improving cognitive processes.
While eating berries might not cause an overwhelming improvement in memory and brain functioning nor completely ward off conditions such as dementia, but they are nevertheless a healthy snack and welcome addition to any balanced diet.
For year-round enjoyment and typically lower prices, check your grocer’s frozen food section for berries, which can be added to smoothies or added to oatmeal and cereals.
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