Better Brain Function in Elderly who ate Blueberries and Strawberries

credit: National Cancer Institute Renee Comet (Photographer)

(Best Syndication News) - A new study found elderly women who ate more blueberries and strawberries slowed their cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years. The study was published in the April 25, 2012 issue of Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.

The berries contain an antioxidant called flavonoids, which also offer anti-inflammatory properties. Previous smaller studies found eating foods high in flavonoids, particularly anthocyanidins, improved in cognitive function.

“As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important. Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline,” Dr. Elizabeth Devore with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts said.

The researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which has 121,700 women participants who are nurses between the age of 30 to 55 when it began in 1976. The women were surveyed with health and lifestyle questionnaires. In 1980, the women were also asked about their frequency of food that they consumed. About 16,010 of the women underwent cognitive function testing between 1995 and 2001 when they were over the age of 70. They continued to be tested every two years. The mean age of the current study participant is 74 and they have a mean BMI of 26.

The researchers compared the participant's frequency of eating blueberries and strawberries and compared it against others using cognitive function testing. The researchers found that the women who reported eating the most berries on a regular basis showed a delay of cognitive aging by 2.5 years.

While the study results look promising, the researchers warn that they did not take into account other health conditions. Another problem that could have influenced the results is the women who ate the berries may have generally lived a healthier lifestyle.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

ref: "Dietary Intake of Berries and Flavonoids in Relation to Cognitive Decline." Elizabeth E. Devore, Jae Hee Kang, Monique M.B. Breteler and Francine Grodstein. Annals of Neurology; Published Online: April 26, 2012 (DOI:10.1002/ana.23594).

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