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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #288891

Title: Walnuts and Berries for the Brain

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/28/2012
Publication Date: 2/24/2013
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B. 2013. Walnuts and Berries for the Brain. The 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition Progam #2, p.30.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Average lifespans have increased dramatically over the last century and by the year 2050 fully 30% of the total population will be over 65 years of age. There is a high probability that these people will be exhibiting the most common behavioral changes that occur in “normal” aging - impaired mobility and cognitive performance. These deficits may be due oxidative damage caused by free-radicals and inflammatory response to this and other cellular damage. Therefore, foods high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, such as berries and nuts could prevent and even reverse the occurrence of the neurochemical and behavioral changes that occur in aging. Previously, we have shown that whole, crude berry extracts and walnuts are able to reverse several parameters of brain aging as well as age-related motor and cognitive deficits when fed to rats from 19-21 months of age. These effects may be the result of direct effects on brain signaling or indirect effects through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the polyphenols in these foods. If these effects translate to older adults, dietary interventions, such as the inclusion of additional servings of berry fruits or nuts, present a potential means of delaying or minimizing the negative effects of aging on the brain.