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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Plum Juice, but Not Dried Plum Powder, is Effective in Mitigating Cognitive Deficits in Aged Rats

Authors
item SHUKITT-HALE, BARBARA
item Kalt, Wilhelmina - AGRI-FOOD CANADA
item Carey, Amanda - NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
item Vinqvist-Tymchuk, Melinda - AGRI-FOOD CANADA
item Mcdonald, Jane - AGRI-FOOD CANADA
item Joseph, James

Submitted to: Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 26, 2008
Publication Date: May 1, 2009
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Kalt, W., Carey, A., Vinqvist-Tymchuk, M., Mcdonald, J., Joseph, J.A. 2009. Plum Juice, but Not Dried Plum Powder, is Effective in Mitigating Cognitive Deficits in Aged Rats. Nutrition.25:567-573.

Interpretive Summary: Objective: Normal aging in animals and humans is accompanied by a decline in brain performance, thought to be caused by stress and inflammation in the brain. Previous findings have found that protection against this decline may be achieved by increasing dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are high in antioxidant activity, such as blueberries and strawberries. The purpose of this study was to look at prunes and their effect on age-related reduction in brain performance. Research Methods & Procedures: We investigated the effects of prunes, eaten as either a 2% dried plum (prune) powder or 100% plum juice for 8 weeks, on age-related decline in brain function in old rats. Results: Rats that drank plum juice from 19 to 21 months of age performed better on memory tests, while rats fed dried plum powder were no different than rats not fed prunes, possibly due to the difference in nutrient quantity. Conclusions: These results are discussed in relation to the amount and type of nutrients present in the plum products and in relation to other dietary studies involving improvement in brain function.

Technical Abstract: Objective: Normal aging in animals and humans is accompanied by a decline in cognitive performance which is thought to be due to the long-term effects of oxidative stress and inflammation on neurological processes. Previous findings have suggested that protection against age-related cognitive declines may be achieved by increasing the dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are high in antioxidant activity, such as blueberries and strawberries. The objective of this study was to investigate supplementation with Prunus domestica L. in mitigating age-related deficits in cognitive function. Research Methods & Procedures: We investigated the effects of supplementation with Prunus domestica L., consumed as either a 2% dried plum (i.e., prune) powder or 100% plum juice for 8 weeks, in mitigating age-related deficits in cognitive function in aged Fischer 344 rats. Results: Rats that drank plum juice from 19 to 21 months of age had improved working memory in the Morris water maze, while rats fed dried plum powder were not different from the control group, possibly due to the lower quantity of phenolics consumed in the powder group compared to the juice group. Conclusions: These results are discussed in relation to the amount and type of phenolics present in the plum products and in relation to other dietary intervention studies where cognitive benefits have been reported.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014