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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #394869

Research Project: Nutrition and Regenerative Medicine for Preventing Age-Related Neurological Disorders

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: The potential cognitive health impact of berries

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/5/2022
Publication Date: 6/5/2022
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B. 2022. The potential cognitive health impact of berries [abstract]. Journal of Natural Health Product Research. 4:18.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Research has demonstrated, in both human and animals, that cognition decreases with age. These deficits are manifested as reduced processing speed and executive function, and impairments in memory and spatial learning. The cause of these functional declines is not entirely understood. Two possible causes may be related to long term increases in, and susceptibility to, oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, it is biologically plausible that foods containing polyphenolics, such as berry fruit, which are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, could slow onset and progression of age-related cognitive and neuronal deficits. Previously, we have shown that whole foods (e.g., berries) were 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. In recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials conducted by our laboratory, 1-2 cups/day for 90 days of dietary blueberry or strawberry were able to transiently improve some aspects of cognitive performance among healthy older adults (ages 60-75). Specifically, participants in the blueberry group showed enhanced executive function, while participants in the strawberry group showed enhanced learning and memory during the period of time tested. There was a relationship between cognitive performance and inflammation, as serum collected from blueberry- or strawberry-supplemented older adults reduced LPS-induced inflammatory-stress-mediated signals (e.g., nitric oxide) in stressed HAPI microglia in vitro, relative to serum from placebo controls. Therefore, dietary interventions with polyphenol-rich berry fruit may be one strategy to forestall age-related neuronal deficits, perhaps via decreases in inflammation, to help preserve cognitive function.