RSSBerries benefit your brain

Posted on Sat, 13 Feb 10

Berries benefit your brain

The development of age related diseases of the brain - cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia - are strongly influenced by what we eat (1). Berry fruits such as strawberries and blueberries have the potential to protect your brain against the ravages of aging and even reverse symptoms such as memory loss and mood changes.  

Reverse brain aging

Age related neurological decline is thought to be primarily the result of the destructive effects of oxidative stress and inflammation over time ultimately leading to energy failure, cell death and impaired mental function (2). Fruits and vegetables directly combat brain aging as they contain thousands of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to prevent brain aging and enhance cognitive function (3). Berry fruits in particular have powerful brain benefits.

Brain food

Berries are rich in polyphenols, a class of phytonutrients which in addition to their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may improve brain function by preventing cell death, enhancing communication, repairing damaged tissue and encouraging the growth of new brain cells. Indeed several animal studies have shown that berries prevent neurological decline and enhance memory and learning (4).  More recently this has been demonstrated in humans.

In a small group of adults (average age of 76 years) with mild cognitive decline the daily consumption of wild blueberry juice for just 12 weeks resulted in significant improvement in memory and cognitive function (5). Improvements in depression and blood glucose were also noted. The study investigators concluded that these “…findings are encouraging and suggest that consistent supplementation with blueberries may offer an approach to forestall or mitigate neurodegeneration.”

Get the most out of your berries

Most studies to date have used an equivalent to approximately half a kilogram of wild blueberry’s which is considerably higher than usual dietary intakes however it seems reasonable that simply enjoying  berries regularly will benefit brain health (5-7). Wild berries are a richer source of antioxidants than those that have been conventionally grown (8). And a lesser known fact is that wild berries are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which also benefit brain health (9). Berries are best enjoyed fresh as eating them cooked, blended with milk or as a sugary jam may lower their nutritional value (10-12).



1. Morris MC. The role of nutrition in Alzheimer's disease: epidemiological evidence. Eur J Neurol. 2009 Sep;16 Suppl 1:1-7.

2. Querfurth HW, LaFerla FM. Alzheimer's disease. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jan 28;362(4):329-44.

3. Letenneur, L.; Proust-Lima, C.; Le Gouge, A.; Dartigues, J. G.; Barberger-Gateau, P. Flavonoid intake and cognitive decline over a 10-year period. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2007, 165, 1364–1371.

4. Shukitt-Hale B, Lau FC, Joseph JA. Berry fruit supplementation and the aging brain. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):636-41.

5. Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, et al. Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults. J  Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jan 4. [Epub ahead of print]

6. Kay CD, Holub BJ. The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2002 Oct;88(4):389-98.

7. Mazza G, Kay CD, Cottrell T, Holub BJ. Absorption of anthocyanins from blueberries and serum antioxidant status in human subjects. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 18;50(26):7731-7.

8. Hosseinian FS, Beta T. Saskatoon and wild blueberries have higher anthocyanin  contents than other Manitoba berries. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 26;55(26):10832-8.

9. Bere E. Wild berries: a good source of omega-3. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):431-3.

10. Lyons MM, Yu C, Toma RB, et al. Resveratrol in raw and baked blueberries and bilberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2003  Sep 24;51(20):5867-70.

11. Serafini M, Testa MF, Villaño D, et al. Antioxidant activity of blueberry fruit is impaired by association with milk. Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Mar 15;46(6):769-74

12. Howard LR, Castrodale C, Brownmiller C, Mauromoustakos A. Jam Processing and Storage Effects on Blueberry Polyphenolics and Antioxidant Capacity. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jan 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Dementia, Alzheimers Disease, Berrys, Blueberries

Related Articles

« Back to Latest Blog Entries