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The Beneficial Effects of Berries on the Brain

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

I would guess that just about everyone would like to know how to slow the aging process, especially when it comes to our brains. So, if you’re wondering which foods might aid in that, The Silver Times recommends picking up some berries. Specifically, scientists are finding that blue, orange and red berries are particularly good at improving mental performance and intelligence.

Berries of all sorts are game-changers when it comes to being powerhouses of antioxidant power and helping to keep free radicals in check while fighting inflammation and other health issues. As the featured article implies, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries are some of the world’s best dietary sources of bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins, flavols, ellagic acid and resveratrol.

Blueberries alone are rich in anthocyanins and phytochemicals known to have antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antiproliferative properties, which are thought to play a beneficial role in brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders. These antioxidant compounds can also be heart-protective in your body (when you eat them in beneficial amounts) and can be thanked for helping to alleviate and prevent such diseases and disorders as neurodegeneration, diabetes, inflammation and even cancer.

When it comes to brain health, studies show that even in older adults with cognitive impairment, consuming blueberries for 24 weeks led to fewer cognitive symptoms and improved memory discrimination, which is indicative of improved cognition. In short, your brain measurably benefits from the anthocyanins in blueberries.

Interestingly, fermented blueberry juice, although far less-known than the fresh berries, is a beverage worth looking into, as its benefits may even exceed those of the whole berries. This is because the fermentation process may help to preserve some of the beneficial phenolic compounds in berries that could otherwise become oxidized by processing or storage.

The good news is nearly anyone can eat berries in moderation, including those on a vegetarian, vegan, paleo or Mediterranean diet, provided it's actually fruit with no additives such as sugar, and you pay attention to the fructose amounts you're ingesting.

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