FNRB - Blueberries, Strawberries May Forestall Brain Drain

Blueberries and strawberries may help slow the decline in learning and memory that often occurs as we age. That's according to new findings from tests with 60 laboratory rats, studied for about three months.

Rats in either of three groups of 20 each ate either a standard feed or feed with blueberry extract equal to that of a daily one-cup portion for humans, or feed with strawberry extract equal to a daily one-pint bowlful.

After two months on the regimens, half of the rats in each group were treated to induce aging. Compared to the aged rats on nonsupplemented feed, the aged-but-supplemented rats performed better in a test of their ability to find, and in some cases remember, a particular feature in their environment.

The new findings add to a series of research studies published during the past eight years showing reduced or reversed declines in brain function among rats whose feed was supplemented with either blueberry, cranberry or strawberry extracts or Concord grape juice.

ARS-funded scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Mass., conducted the research in collaboration with investigators at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and published their findings in Neurobiology of Aging (online July 13, 2006).