(NaturalHealth365) Colorful, juicy and highly nutritious, berries offer more to your health than you can imagine. Substantial experimental data, over the last decade, indicate that consuming berries prevent brain damage and age-related memory loss. The variety of beneficial compounds in berries not only will reduce the risk of many diseases but also prevent conditions such as stress and depression.
Berries are rich in anthocyanins, which are responsible for the bright hue of the fruit. These compounds also demonstrate potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties along with vitamin C and quercetin. Well known for reducing the risk of diseases, berries have gained popularity for their ability to improve cognitive function and memory in both animal models and humans.
A perfect food for brain strength and vitality
Most berries are particularly high in a subclass of flavonoids called anthocyanidins, a phytonutrient that can cross the blood-brain barrier. These compounds seep into the brain tissues and localize in the hippocampus part of the brain (areas of learning and memory). Anthocyanidins are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that effectively combat oxidative stress and inflammation – two important components to cognitive impairment.
A 2012 study that observed the rate of cognitive decline on older adults found that higher intake of flavonoid-rich berries reduced the rates of cognitive decline. Researchers of this study concluded that increasing the consumption of berries could be a potential strategy for reducing cognitive decline. Interestingly enough, anthocyanin works in synergy with quercetin to prevent age-related memory loss.
A great way to clear away toxins in the brain
A research report presented at the 2013 Experimental Biology revealed that berries protected against radiation – in a study on mice. Based on the study findings, researchers reported that the brains of rats exposed to radiation were protected from damage and accelerated aging when fed with berries for a period of two months.
According to the researchers, the interesting find of this study was that the berries were able to activate brain’s natural ‘clean- up’ mechanisms called autophagy. Autophagy is the natural process of the brain to clear out the accumulated toxins.
However as we age this mechanism declines thereby causing memory loss. This finding is of significance as most diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are due to an increased accumulation of toxic protein. Berries with their ability to promote autophagy, helps to reduce the accumulation and prevent memory and other age-related cognitive decline.
But wait, there’s more good news about berries.
When it comes to the total antioxidant levels – berries are a winner. One cup of wild blueberries give us about 13,400 total antioxidants – vitamin A, C, quercetin and anthocyanidins; nearly 10 times the USDA’s recommendation for antioxidants.
Cranberries contain about 8900 total antioxidants, blackberries about 7700, raspberries 6000 and strawberries 5900, and sweet cherries 4800. Be sure to consume a spectrum of colored berries, purple-blue-red-orange, to get the most of the antioxidants.
Of course, berries are super convenient, can be eaten raw and makes for a healthy ‘on-the-go’ snack. Tossed into a green salad, they not only improve the nutritional value of the recipe but also helps to spruce up the color, flavor and texture of the meal. Being versatile, berries can be added to porridge, pancakes, yogurt or as a sprinkle over coconut ice cream. (yummy!)
Spring is the best time to enjoy a variety of berries, with the season peak starting in mid-May. You can also buy berries from your local farm in large quantities, clean and freeze it to be used for later months. Naturally, be sure to choose organic berries to avoid pesticides and other toxins.
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1. Devore EE1, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology, 2012; Jul;72(1):135-43.
2. American Chemical Society. “Eating berries may activate the brain’s natural housekeeper for healthy aging.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2010.
3. Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol. 2012 Jul;72(1):135-43.
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