Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries all reduce cognitive decline related to age, research finds.
All three fruits contain high levels of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that can also help reduce inflammation in the brain and body.
The research was carried out on data from 121,700 women, who were followed up over decades.
Dr Elizabeth Devore, the study’s first author, said:
“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.”
The results showed that high berry intake was linked to a delay in cognitive ageing equivalent to 2.5 years.
In other words: berries made their brains work as though they were 2.5 years younger.
Dr Devore said:
“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.
Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults.”
Berries are also one of the central components in the ‘MIND’ diet, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries in particular seem to have a powerful effect on the brain.
One recent study looked at the effects of concentrated blueberry juice:
“Concentrated blueberry juice improves cognitive function in older people, new research finds.
Those who drank the juice also had better blood flow and activation in their brains as well as improvements to working memory.
The boost to brain power is likely down to the flavonoids in blueberries.”
Strawberries also have other research backing up their protective effects, as do walnuts.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology (Devore et al., 2012).