Women who eat plenty of blueberries and strawberries stay sharp as they age, and maybe men can benefit too, according to a major study released last Thursday in the Annals of Neurology.
Lead author and epidemiologist Elizabeth Devore, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, along with her team, analyzed data from The Nurses’ Health Study, which started tracking the health and lifestyle of 121,700 nurses in 1976.
For the berry analysis, 16,000 stroke-free women older than 70 were given six tests for memory and cognitive function. Every two years from 1995 to 2001, researchers measured mental function in these women. Those who ate more blueberries and strawberries had the slowest memory decline.
Exciting news that with such a simple dietary intervention we can stay smarter longer!
From The New York Daily News:
“Not everyone’s memory declines as they age, but on average, when women did decline over time, the group that ate the most berries declined less,” said Devore.
The benefit was seen with just a half cup of blueberries or one cup of strawberries consumed a week. Frozen, regular or organic all work.
And if you ate more? The study didn’t look at that.
“Because cognitive decline develops over many years, long-term dietary habits are likely most relevant to brain health,” Devore said.
“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women,” said Devore.
Devore added that the findings are of particular importance to the aging population, which is on the rise: the number of Americans aged 65 and older grew 15 percent from 2000 to 2010 according to the U.S. Census.
Flavonoids are antioxidants that are found in berries, apples, citrus fruits, tea, red wine and onions, and previous research has shown they may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
We know that it’s a great idea if everyone, young and old, increases their daily intake of fruits and vegetables, in order to live a healthy life, and now here’s even more proof that we should all be heading to the produce aisle.
The magic bullet in berries may be a certain kind of flavonoid known as anthocyanidins, which cross the blood-brain barrier.
They have also been found in the regions of the brain involved with learning and memory.
Get the berry habit and stay smart!
Photo Credit: ebroskie1234