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Berries Nourish the Brain

LAS VEGASUSDA researcher Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D., concluded eating berries nourishes the aging brain and may even reverse age-related deficits in her presentation at SupplySide West Nov. 11. Studies by the USDA and other researchers suggest that polyphenolics in blueberries, strawberries and other fruits may offer these benefits due to their antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects.

Shukitt-Hale presented summaries of a variety of studies that examined how adding these berries to the diet impacts behavior, learning, memory and other areas. The studies even hinted that different berries affect different parts of the brain. For example, one set of studies suggest the polyphenolic compounds in blueberries may work mainly in the striatum, while those in strawberries seem to mainly affect the hippocampus.

She said that it is possible that the polyphenolics in berries may have direct effects on the brain by directly increasing signaling and neurogenesis. This idea goes beyond the commonly accepted value of berries for their antioxidant effects.

Based on the science presented, Shukitt-Hale concluded that strengthening the brain with high antioxidant fruit supplementation may have important implications for use in conjunction with conventional therapies for Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases.

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