The World's Healthiest Foods

Strawberries, Spinach & Blueberries Reverse Brain Cell Aging

A group of researchers at Tufts University's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging have shown that dietary supplements of strawberries, spinach or blueberries can actually reverse age-related declines in brain and motor function-at least in rats.

When 19-months old Fischer 344 rats were given supplements of strawberry, spinach, or blueberry for 8 weeks, numerous indicators of brain and motor function improved significantly. The rats' brain cells' ability to release several neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages between brain cells) improved, and so did their motor skills, as evidenced by improved performance in their ability to walk on small rods and to find their way through a water maze.

A significant amount of research has indicated that as we age, our vulnerability to damage from free radicals produced as a side-effect of normal metabolic processes increases-and that this increased vulnerability may be the major factor involved in declines in brain function associated with aging as well as age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

Earlier research by the same team at Tufts had shown that antioxidant-rich extracts of strawberries and spinach could ameliorate or prevent these age-related neurological declines by improving brain cells' ability to send and receive the signaling molecules through which they communicate.

This latest study goes even further, demonstrating that the powerful antioxidants in strawberries, spinach and blueberries can improve the ability to communicate even among brain cells already showing signs of age-related damage.

So, before you get another day older, take advantage of summer's bounty and save some money by freezing a flat or two of berries to help keep your brain functioning healthfully in your Golden Years. The easiest way to freeze berries is to rinse them, spread them out on cookie sheets, and place them in the freezer. Within just 2-3 hours, you'll have frozen berries, none of which are clumped together. Transfer the berries to freezer Ziploc bags-the quart-size ones work well-and return to the freezer to enjoy at summer prices throughout the year.

To learn more about these antioxidant-rich members of the World's Healthiest Foods, click blueberries, strawberries or spinach.

Want more suggestions for ways to enjoy these foods more frequently as part of your healthy way of eating? For a list of the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing either food, click on the Recipe Assistant, select strawberries, blueberries or spinach on the healthy foods list, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all of the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing the food chosen will appear immediately below.

References: Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, Bielinski D, Martin A, McEwen JJ, Bickford PC. Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8114-21. Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, Prior RL, Cao G, Martin A, Taglialatela G, Bickford PC. Long-term dietary strawberry, spinach, or vitamin E supplementation retards the onset of age-related neuronal signal-transduction and cognitive behavioral deficits. J Neurosci 1998 Oct 1;18(19):8047-55.