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Boost your aging brain with blueberries

Time marches on, and there's nothing you can do to stop it, but a new study suggests that something as simple as eating blueberries may help reverse the aging process -- at least when it comes to your brain.

In the study, male rats equivalent in age to humans in their 70s were fed plain chow or chow supplemented with extract of either blueberry, strawberry, or spinach. After eight weeks, the four groups of animals were tested on motor function, memory, and cognitive ability.

All three groups of rats that got the supplemented chow did better than the other rats on memory and learning tests. The supplements, especially blueberry, were also effective in preventing age-related declines in brain function and performance. The blueberry-supplemented group did significantly better on tests that measured balance and coordination.

Whether these results would be the same in humans remains to be seen, but researchers think they may, because fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are harmful chemicals that are created as your body processes oxygen. Your brain may be a particular target for free-radical damage, because it uses so much oxygen -- about 20 percent of all the oxygen you inhale.

Other studies suggest the same thing. In a study of more than 5,000 people ages 55 to 95, researchers found that those people whose diets included the most beta carotene (a carotenoid with antioxidant abilities) were the least likely to have problems with memory, attention span, and other mental abilities. Foods high in beta carotene include carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and apricots.

Eating blueberries and spinach may not stop the aging process, but it's an easy and delicious way to hedge your bets -- and perhaps protect your brain.

     
     

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Boost your aging brain with blueberries

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