The American Chemical Society reports 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.” The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry notes that as our nation’s baby boomers continue to get older, age-related diseases are becoming increasingly prominent.
Despite the rise in life expectancy for the developed world, brought about by improved nutrition, healthcare, and sanitation, a spotlight has been shown on age-related issues that result from the buildup of oxidative damage. However, this study exposes strong evidence which shows several health benefits of regularly consuming berry fruits.
According to the recently published study, the high antioxidant levels of berries protect cells from damage done by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that have a single unpaired electron in their outer shell. These highly reactive particles frequently account for oxidative damage and stress.
Oxidative stress frequently results in chronic inflammatory responses which can contribute to the buildup of neural damage. The study authors note the brain is particularly vulnerable and prone to oxidative damage due to its high level of oxygen consumption.
However, this study finds that berry fruits are a highly rich source of compounds that are strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. The study also reports that eating berries improves the way brain neurons communicate, contributing to better cognition and motor control.
Despite the strides made in identifying the presence of these beneficial compounds, scientists note that additional research is needed to “demonstrate each constituents’ availability and mechanism of action specific to individual brain subregions.” The study authors also note that although it may be tempting to assume one chemical is responsible for these beneficial effects, it is likely that this brain function improvement results from the interaction of several chemicals found in these fruits.
The article also notes that before doctors can definitively recommend increased consumption of berries, further research is needed to identify “critical periods” when eating more berries will have the greatest ability to prevent or reverse damaging aging effects. In addition, the ideal amount and length of berry consumption needs to be explored.
Nevertheless, this study presents promising news in the fight against devastating age-related neurological diseases. We will report on any future studies into the mind benefits of eating berries.