Berries as brain food

Dr Paul Clayton 2013

I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed the bumper harvest of berry fruits this year, and I hope
you’ve managed to freeze or preserve some for the winter too.

Berries offer much more than a great taste. Recent research suggests that nutrients in
berries may protect your brain from age-related decline and enhance heart health.

In animal studies conducted by Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research
Center on Aging (HNRCA), nutritional antioxidants—such as the polyphenols found in
blueberries—have been shown to reverse age-related declines in the brain’s ability to
process information, as well as cognitive and motor deficits.

The journal Neurobiology of Aging reported that laboratory rats fed blueberry extract
equivalent to one cup daily in humans, or strawberry extract equivalent to one pint daily
in humans, outperformed other aged rats.(1)

It’s not just blueberries and strawberries. In a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience,
Tufts researchers fed aged rats a 2% blackberry-supplemented diet for eight weeks.
The blackberry diet improved motor performance on tasks that rely on balance and
coordination, and the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater short-term memory
performance than the control rats.(2)

Several epidemiological studies corroborate the animal research.


1. Galli RL, Bielinski DF, Szprengiel A, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA.
Blueberry supplemented diet reverses age-related decline in
hippocampal HSP70 neuroprotection. Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Apr 30.

2. Shukitt-Hale B, Cheng V, Joseph JA. Effects of blackberries on motor
and cognitive function in aged rats. Nutritional Neuroscience 12.3
(2009): 135-140.