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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #203302

Title: Blueberries and the Aging Brain: Beyond Antioxidants

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Joseph, James

Submitted to: The Food Industry
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2005
Publication Date: 1/1/2006
Citation: Mark, D.A., Shukitt Hale, B., Joseph, J.A. 2006. Blueberries and the Aging Brain: Beyond Antioxidants. The Food Journal.49(2):50-55.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Wild blueberries, native to North America, have been evaluated as having anti-aging properties for nerve cells and nerve cell functions such as neuromotor skills and memory. Aged animals fed blueberries in their diets for eight weeks showed improvements in short-term memory, coordination, balance, muscle strength and stamina. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory function of polyphenols from blueberries has been proposed as one mechanism of action. Beyond antioxidant activity, there is evidence from neural tissue that polyphenols may directly increase receptor sensitivity, improve neuronal signaling, and even promote generation of new nerve cells. Epidemiology studies provide some corroborating evidence for the animal studies. Habitual consumption of red wine, which contains polyphenols related to those found in blueberries, is associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.