Berries are brain food

By • Published: July 5th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

What do chocolate, avocados, salmon and blueberries have in common? Well, most people might say these foods have nothing in common. But to some health experts, they are considered “brain foods,” foods that can improve memory, mood, concentration and clarity.

But now a new study says blueberries aren’t the only berries that may help keep your brain in good health. Researchers from Harvard Medical School say strawberries can be added to the list of brain healthy foods.

After reviewing the eating habits of 16,000 women over the age of 70 participating in the Nurses Health Study, researchers found that women who ate a daily bowl of strawberries and blueberries delayed the natural gradual decline in mental capacity.

In fact, the findings found that a daily dose of eating berries delayed cognitive aging by up to two-and-a-half years in study participants.

Strawberries and blueberries are a good source of flavonoids (flav-uh-noids). When flavonoids break down, they provide a potent amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to the brain.

Health experts say stress and inflammation in brain cells can lead to cognitive deterioration. But flavonoids may reduce these potentially harmful effects by combating the free radicals that can damage the brain.

The study is the first to analyze long-term berry consumption after a decline in mental capacity has set in. Researchers say some of the participants’ other brain healthy activities, such as exercise and their education level, may be a factor in the results, too.

Even though the study analyzed women’s eating habits, researchers suggest men could see the same benefits from munching on berries as their female counterparts.

Eating a bowl full of ripe strawberries and blueberries a day may just permit you to enjoy living to a ripe old age. And they taste pretty good, too.