THURSDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Regular consumption of berries, such as blueberries or strawberries, may help keep your brain functioning well as you age, new research suggests.
The study found that women with the highest intake of berries appeared to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years. Cognition refers to brain activities such as thinking, remembering and reasoning.
"Given that we know that fruits and vegetables are good for our health in general, our findings add to the idea that we should be consuming more, especially berries, as a way to help maintain memory in older ages," said the study's lead author, Elizabeth Devore, an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in Boston.
"Berries are a simple dietary intervention that may be helpful to the brain," Devore added.
Results of the study were published online April 26 in the Annals of Neurology.
Berries and other fruits and vegetables are rich in substances known as flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect the body's cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
"Flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in berries, apples, citrus fruits, tea, red wine and onions, have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers," explained nutritionist Nancy Copperman, director of public health initiatives at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.
Berries contain a particular flavonoid called anthocyanidin. Devore said anthocyanidin helps give berries their rich colors, and it's found in fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, elderberries, and red and concord grapes.
Devore explained that one of the things that's special about anthocyanidins is that they can cross the blood-brain barrier and that these flavonoids tend to locate in the areas of the brain responsib
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