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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Grape juice, berries and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior

Authors
item Joseph, James
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Willis, Lauren

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: May 5, 2009
Publication Date: September 21, 2009
Citation: Joseph, J.A., Shukitt Hale, B., Willis, L. 2009. Grape juice, berries and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. Journal of Nutrition. 139:1813S-1817S.

Technical Abstract: Numerous studies have indicated that individuals consuming a diet containing high amounts of fruits and vegetables exhibit fewer age-related diseases such as Alzheimer Disease (AD). A recent report has indicated that individuals who consumed a diet containing 2.5 servings of fruit and vegetables/day were 40% less likely to develop AD. Research from our laboratory has suggested that dietary supplementation with fruit or vegetable extracts high in antioxidants (e.g., blueberry, strawberry, walnuts, and Concord grape juice) can decrease the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress (OS) that occurs in aging and these reductions are expressed as improvements in behavior. Additional mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables include enhancement of neuronal communication via increases in neuronal signaling and decreases in stress signals induced by oxidative/inflammatory stressors (e.g., nuclear factor kappa B, NF'B). Moreover, collaborative findings with Dr. Robert Krikorian indicate that crude blueberry or Concord grape juice supplementation in humans with mild cognitive impairment increased verbal memory performance, thus translating our animal findings to humans. Taken together, these results suggest that a greater intake of high antioxidant foods such as berries, Concord grapes and walnuts may increase “health span” and enhance cognitive and motor function in aging.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014