Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions

Providing Nutritious Foods: Strong scientific evidence that eating berries benefits the brain

May 7, 2012


Strong scientific evidence that
eating berries benefits the brain.
Credit: iStock.

Summary

Strong scientific evidence exists that eating
blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and
other berry fruits has beneficial effects on
the brain and may help prevent age-related
memory loss and other changes, scientists
report. Their new article on the value of
eating berry fruits appears in ACS’ Journal
of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Today’s finding suggests that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes. A review of the science behind the value of eating berry fruits appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D., who is at USDA, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and is the lead author of the review, points out that longer lifespans are raising concerns about the human toll and health care costs of treating Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental decline.

“Recent research increasingly shows that eating berry fruits can benefit the aging brain. To analyze the strength of the evidence about berry fruits, Marshall Miller and I extensively reviewed cellular, animal and human studies on the topic.”

Their review concluded that berry fruits help the brain stay healthy in several ways. Berry fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, compounds that protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals.

“We also report that berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition.”

The scientists suggest that further research will show whether these benefits are a result of individual compounds shared between berry fruits or whether the unique combinations of chemicals in each berry fruit simply have similar effects.

Smart Chemists/Innovative Thinking

Smart chemists. Innovative thinking. That’s the key to solving global challenges of the 21st Century. Please check out more of our full-length podcasts on wide-ranging issues facing chemistry and science, such as promoting public health, developing new fuels and confronting climate change, at www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges. Today’s podcast was written by Katie Cottingham. I’m Adam Dylewski at the American Chemical Society in Washington.

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Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D.,
USDA, Human Nutrition
Research Center on Aging
Tufts University, Massachusetts