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Berry consumption shown to be good for the brain

Scott Levin's picture

Trying to stay sharp mentally as you move into your later years? Start eating your berries now, says one research group.

The study released by doctors at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston took into account more than 25 years of research on 16,000 women. The conclusion was that consuming considerable amounts of berries delayed the mental decline in the participants.

Between 1976 and 2001, the women in the study had their eating habits monitored. In the final years of the research, the women over 70 years old went through tests to show their mental fortitude.

According to doctors involved in the study, the women who made berries a part of their diets were shown to have delayed brain decline by up to 2.5 years.

The study was published in the Annals of Neurology.

Researchers believe the study gives elderly people an easy, nutritious way to improve the health of their brain. The exact amount of berries each participant ate to see the positive results is unknown. A serving of berries is considered one cup, and according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, one cup equates to about eight large strawberries.

Berries have already been known to contain anti-oxidants, which help slow the signs of aging, and serve as an anti-inflammatory, which helps decrease some of the pains associated with older age.

The key in the berries' power to help slow mental decline is possibly due to the high amount of flavonoids in the fruits. Flavonoids are tiny molecules produced by plants. In studies, diets including a high flavonoid intake have shown to be anti-cancerous and anti-bacterial, in addition to slowing the aging process via anti-oxidants.

Flavonoids can be found in citrus fruits, tea, red wine and red onion. Just this week researchers released a study claiming that the flavonoids in dark chocolate may improve heart health. Meanwhile, white chocolate, which contains no flavonoids, did not show similar effects.

Consuming a large amount of red wine or chocolate, while probably an enjoyable proposition for most, may put people at risk for other health problems. That's why researchers believe the findings shown in the berry study give dieters a tasty, yet nutritious option for improving their health down the road.

A move as simple as adding any kind of berries --strawberries, blueberries, blackberries -- to one's diet today may keep the brain decline away.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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