Blueberries, Purple Grape Juice Standardized Extract, and Strawberries protect brain function in the aging

August 13, 2009

A new review of existing studies shows that greater consumption of grapes and berries could help protect against age-related cognitive decline. The researchers from Tufts University in Boston reviewed the results of studies conducted by their laboratory as well as other research that included human trials. The authors noted that there is plenty of evidence that the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and that additional mechanisms also contribute to the reduction in age-related motor (movement) and cognitive deficits observed in association with grape, blueberry and strawberry supplementation.

In one study conducted by the current research team, the effects of 10% and 50% concentrations of grape juice were compared with the effects of a placebo on age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal function in older rats. Animals that received the 10% concentration were found to have enhanced dopamine release and improved cognitive performance, while the 50% concentration was associated with improved motor function. In a clinical trial, Concord grape juice was associated with significant improvement in cognitive function compared to the effects of a placebo in older individuals with cognitive impairment without dementia.

In other research conducted by the team, blueberry and strawberry extracts prevented age-related cognitive deficits in rats and reversed deficits in neuronal and behavioral function. And in humans, blueberry juice improved memory and learning in a 12 week study. The findings “suggest that it may be possible to increase ‘health span’ by reversing the deleterious effects of senescence on cognitive and motor behavior via nutritional modulation,” the authors of the review and research conclude. The study is published online ahead of print on July 29, 2009 in the Journal of Nutrition.