Submitted to: Flavonoids and Related Compounds: Bioavailability and Function
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 15, 2011
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Citation: Poulose, S.M., Shukitt Hale, B. 2012. Effects of flavonoids on cognitive performance. In: Spencer, J., Crozier, A., editors. Flavonoids and Related Compounds: Bioavailability and Function. United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis Group LLC, CRC Press. p. 393-411.
Recent studies suggest that nutritional interventions, such as increasing dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, could possibly delay and even reverse age-related declines in brain function such as cognitive and motor performance. Fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids play a critical role in protecting the brain from injuries caused by free radicals and inflammation. The declining abilities of aging brain cells to counter these damages are the principle factors for the alarming rise in age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arterial lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, prion disease, dementia, and others. Studies in our laboratory and others with aged laboratory animals indicate that dietary supplementation with extracts of fruits or vegetables high in flavonoids, especially berries such as blueberry, strawberry, acai berry, raspberry, or blackberry, can decrease this vulnerability of brain cells to inflammation and oxidative stress and improve age-related deficits in neuronal signaling. There were also substantial improvements in behavioral indices, particularly cognitive performance, with the flavonoid-rich berry diets. This chapter summarizes the potential role of flavonoid-rich diets, particularly berry-supplemented diets, in promoting brain health by reducing the age-related declines in neuronal signaling and cognitive performance.