Research - Berries
Cognition: the new frontier for nuts and berries1,2,3
The inclusion of nuts in the diet is associated with a decreased risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension, gallstones, diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and visceral obesity. Frequent consumption of berries seems to be associated with improved cardiovascular and cancer outcomes, improved immune function, and decreased recurrence of urinary tract infections; the consumption of nuts and berries is associated with reduction in oxidative damage, inflammation, vascular reactivity, and platelet aggregation, and improvement in immune functions. However, only recently have the effects of nut and berry consumption on the brain, different neural systems, and cognition been studied. There is growing evidence that the synergy and interaction of all of the nutrients and other bioactive components in nuts and berries can have a beneficial effect on the brain and cognition. Regular nut consumption, berry consumption, or both could possibly be used as an adjunctive therapeutic strategy in the treatment and prevention of several neurodegenerative diseases and age-related brain dysfunction. A number of animal and a growing number of human studies show that moderate-duration dietary supplementation with nuts, berry fruit, or both is capable of altering cognitive performance in humans, perhaps forestalling or reversing the effects of neurodegeneration in aging.
Source : American Society of Nutrition
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Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases
Selvaraju Subash1, Musthafa Mohamed Essa Ph.D. 1, Samir Al-Adawi2, Mushtaq A Memon3, Thamilarasan Manivasagam4, Mohammed Akbar5
Recent clinical research has demonstrated that berry fruits can prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases and improve motor and cognitive functions. The berry fruits are also capable of modulating signaling pathways involved in inflammation, cell survival, neurotransmission and enhancing neuroplasticity. The neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases are related to phytochemicals such as anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, quercetin, kaempferol and tannin. In this review, we made an attempt to clearly describe the beneficial effects of various types of berries as promising neuroprotective agents.
Oxidative stress and inflammation are major factors contributing to aging and the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Numerous natural antioxidant/anti-inflammatory compounds found in plant food matrices, like fruits, especially berries (such as strawberry, bilberry, blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry and mulberry) can offer neuroprotective effects [Table 2] (Essa et al., 2012; Subash et al., 2014a,b,c). Furthermore, the berry fruit may exert their effects directly through alterations in cell signaling to improve/increase neuronal communication, calcium buffering, neuroprotective stress shock proteins, plasticity, antioxidant/anti-inflammatory action, stress signaling pathways and inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. These modifications, and others that are being studied, may mediate the enhancements in cognitive and motor behavioral performance by berries. Thus, nutritional interventions rich in phytochemicals (for example anthocyanins and caffeic acid) such as berry fruits may be a valuable asset in preventing against aging by reducing or delaying the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Source : Neural Regeneration Research
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Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome
1,2,3Arpita Basu,4,* Mei Du,6 Misti J. Leyva,5 Karah Sanchez,4 Nancy M. Betts,4 Mingyuan Wu,6 Christopher E. Aston,5and Timothy J. Lyons5,6
Among all fruits, berries have shown substantial cardio-protective benefits due to their high polyphenol content. However, investigation of their efficacy in improving features of metabolic syndrome and related cardiovascular risk factors in obesity is limited. We examined the effects of blueberry supplementation on features of metabolic syndrome, lipid peroxidation, and inflammation in obese men and women. Forty-eight participants with metabolic syndrome [4 males and 44 females; BMI: 37.8 ± 2.3 kg/m2; age: 50.0 ± 3.0 y (mean ± SE)] consumed freeze-dried blueberry beverage (50 g freeze-dried blueberries, #126 350 g fresh blueberries) or equivalent amounts of fluids (controls, 960 mL water) daily for 8 wk in a randomized controlled trial. Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements, assessment of dietary intakes, and fasting blood draws were conducted at screening and at wk 4 and 8 of the study. The decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures were greater in the blueberry-supplemented group (− 6 and − 4%, respectively) than in controls (− 1.5 and − 1.2%) (P lt 0.05), whereas the serum glucose concentration and lipid profiles were not affected. The decreases in plasma oxidized LDL and serum malondialdehyde and hydroxynonenal concentrations were greater in the blueberry group (− 28 and − 17%, respectively) than in the control group (− 9 and − 9%) (P lt 0.01). Our study shows blueberries may improve selected features of metabolic syndrome and related cardiovascular risk factors at dietary achievable doses.
Source : The Journal of Nutrition
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Study highlights the protective effect of berries on brain function
Adding more color to your diet in the form of berries is encouraged by many nutrition experts. The protective effect of berries against inflammation has been documented in many studies. Diets supplemented with blueberries and strawberries have also been shown to improve behavior and cognitive functions in stressed young rats.
To evaluate the protective effects of berries on brain function, specifically the ability of the brain to clear toxic accumulation, researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and University of Maryland Baltimore County recently fed rats a berry diet for 2 months and then looked at their brains after irradiation, a model for accelerated aging. All of the rats were fed berries 2 months prior to radiation and then divided into two groups- one was evaluated after 36 hours of radiation and the other after 30 days.
"After 30 days on the same berry diet, the rats experienced significant protection against radiation compared to control," said investigator Shibu Poulose, PhD. "We saw significant benefits to diets with both of the berries, and speculate it is due to the phytonutrients present."
The researchers looked at neurochemical changes in the brain, in particular what is known as autophagy, which can regulate the synthesis, degradation and recycling of cellular components. It is also the way in which the brain clears toxic accumulations. "Most diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's have shown an increased amount of toxic protein. Berries seem to promote autophagy, the brain's natural housekeeping mechanism, thereby reducing the toxic accumulation," said Poulose.
The researchers are currently conducting a human study in older people ages 60-75. "We have a lot of animal work that suggests these compounds will protect the aged brain and reverse some of behavioral deficits. We are hoping it will translate to human studies as well," said Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale, the lead investigator conducting the human study.
Source: Medical News via Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
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Berries Ward Off MI in Women
Young and middle-age women whose diet included high levels of anthocyanins -- the flavonoids present in red and blue fruits such as strawberries and blueberries -- had a significantly reduced risk for myocardial infarction (MI), a large prospective study found.
Women whose anthocyanin intake was in the highest quintile had a 32% decrease in risk of MI during 18 years of follow-up (HR 0.68, 95% CI 0.49 to 0.96, P=0.03), according to Eric B. Rimm, ScD, of Harvard University, and colleagues.
And in a food-based analysis, women who consumed more than three servings of strawberries or blueberries each week showed a trend towards a lower MI risk, with a 34% decrease (HR 0.66, 95% CI 0.40 to 1.08, P=0.09) compared with women who rarely included these fruits in their diet, the researchers reported online in Circulation.
"Growing evidence supports the beneficial effects of dietary flavonoids on endothelial function and blood pressure, suggesting that flavonoids might be more likely than other dietary factors to lower the risk of [coronary heart disease] in predominantly young women," they observed.
A number of preclinical experiments have demonstrated cardioprotective effects of anthocyanins, including anti-inflammatory effects, plaque stabilization, and inhibition of the expression of growth factors.
While studies have suggested that MI risk is increased in young and middle-age women who smoke or use oral contraceptives, little is known about the influence of diet in this population, whose risk may differ from that in older women.
The younger women may have a greater likelihood of endothelial dysfunction and coronary vasospasm and less obstructive disease.
Because dietary flavonoids -- found in vegetables, fruits, wine, and tea -- are recognized as benefiting endothelial function, the researchers looked at outcomes for 93,600 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II who reported their consumption of various foods and their lifestyle factors every 4 years.
At the time of enrollment, beginning in 1991, participants were ages 25 to 42.
During almost 2 decades of follow-up, there were 405 cases of MI, occurring at a median age of 48.9 years.
Review of the food frequency and lifestyle questionnaires revealed that women who consumed high levels of anthocyanins were less likely to smoke, were more physically active, and had lower fat and higher fiber intake.
The 32% reduction in MI risk was seen after adjustment for multiple factors including body mass index, physical activity, saturated fat intake, use of caffeine and alcohol, and family history of MI.
"This inverse association was independent of established dietary and nondietary [cardiovascular disease] risk," the researchers noted.
Even adding conditions such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes to the analytical model did not significantly change the risk estimate (HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.97).
Comparison of risk among women in the highest and lowest 10% of anthocyanin intake showed a relative risk of 0.53 (95% CI 0.33 to 0.86) for the high-intake group, which suggested the presence of a dose-response relationship.
Intake of other types of flavonoids did not significantly lower the risk of MI. The researchers had hypothesized that high intake of flavan-3-ol also would be important, because they had previously identified cardiovascular benefits for one type of flavan-3-ol compound in a meta-analysis.
The lack of effect in the current analysis may have reflected the fact that in the early 1990s, when the study began, most food frequency questionnaires did not include dark chocolate, which is a primary source for flavan-3-ol, they noted.
Adjustment for additional dietary factors such as total fruit and vegetable consumption also did not alter the risk, which suggests "that the benefits are specific to a food constituent in anthocyanin-rich foods (including blueberries, strawberries, eggplants, blackberries, blackcurrants) and not necessarily to nonspecific benefits among participants who consume high intakes of fruits and vegetables."
However, the results of this study do not support the use of flavonoid dietary supplements, according to Michael Rinaldi, MD, of the Carolinas HealthCare System's Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute in Charlotte, N.C.
The study does suggest that a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables can be healthy, said Rinaldi, who was not involved in the study.
"On the other hand, if you're going to say that these flavonoid substances in the berries should be taken as supplements, that's not what the study has the power to say," he told MedPage Today in an interview.
Limitations of the study included a lack of information about the results of cardiac catheterization and the possibility of additional unmeasured confounding factors.
In addition, while the model adjusted for intake of a number of other potentially beneficial food components, there may have been other unidentified compounds in fruits that contribute to cardioprotection.
"In a population-based study like ours, it is impossible to disentangle the relative influence of all the constituents of fruits and vegetables," the researchers wrote.
Further research will be needed to identify cardiac biomarkers that could help explain mechanisms of action, to explore dose responses, and to evaluate longer-term clinical endpoints.
Source : Medpage Today
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Eating Berries Linked to Delay in Cognitive Decline
Increased consumption of blueberries and strawberries appears to slow cognitive decline in older women, according to an analysis of data from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS). "Increasing berry intake appears to slow memory decline by up to 2.5 years," lead author, Elizabeth E. Devore, ScD, from the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, told Medscape Medical News. "By this, we mean that women eating the most berries vs. little to no berries had memory differences equivalent to women 2.5 years apart in age."
The news study was published online April 25 in the Annals of Neurology.
Berries and Flavonoids
In their prospective, observational study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the California Strawberry Commission, Dr. Devore and her team evaluated long-term intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to memory decline in 16,010 older women who were participants in the NHS.
The NHS encompasses a large population cohort of 121,700 female registered nurses aged 30 to 55 years who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires starting in 1976.
Between 1995 and 2001, cognitive function was measured every 2 years in study participants aged 70 and older. The mean age of the women in the current analysis was 74, and their mean body mass index was 26 kg/m2.
"Experimental data show that berry supplementation enhances neuronal function and survival and ameliorates age-related cognitive impairment in rodents," Dr. Devore noted.
Berries are particularly high in a subclass of flavonoids called anthocyanidins, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and localize in the hippocampus, known to be an area of the brain involved in learning and memory, she said.
"Flavonoids have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and both oxidative stress and inflammation are thought to be important contributors to cognitive impairment. So increased flavonoid consumption could be a potential strategy for reducing cognitive decline in older adults," she said.
The researchers found that greater intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline.
After adjustment for age and education, greater consumption of blueberries was highly associated with slower decline in the global score (P trend = .010), the verbal score (P trend = .016), and the Telephone Interview of Cognitive Status (P trend = .027).
The mean difference in rate of global decline was 0.04 standard unit over the study period (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01 - 0.07) in women who had 1 or more servings of blueberries per week vs those who ate less than 1 serving per week.
They also found that a greater intake of strawberries was related to slower decline in the global and verbal scores after adjustment for age (P trend for global score = .021) and education (P trend for verbal score = .014).
Women who ate 2 or more servings of strawberries per week had an average decline in the global score that was 0.03 standard unit less over the study follow-up period compared with women who had less than 1 serving per week (95% CI, 0.00 - 0.06).
Overall in the study population, the researchers found that 1 year of age was associated with a mean decline of 0.02 standard unit on the global score over the follow-up period.
"Thus, the mean differences that we observed comparing extreme categories of blueberry and strawberry intakes were equivalent to approximately 1.5 to 2.5 years of cognitive aging," Dr. Devore explained. "Women with higher berry intake appeared to have delayed their cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years."
However, she cautioned that although the study controlled for other health factors, the possibility that the preserved cognition in those who ate more berries may be also influenced by other lifestyle choices, such as exercising more, cannot be ruled out.
The study does, however, have strengths, she said. "It is the first large epidemiologic study of long-term berry and flavonoid intake in relation to memory decline, utilizing information from over 16,000 older women. In addition, we collected information on berry intake over 20 years prior to initial memory testing, which enabled us to analyze long-term patterns of berry intake."
For now, however, doctors can tell their patients that eating berries may delay memory decline. "Specifically, eating 1 or more servings per week of blueberries or 2 or more servings per week of strawberries appears to be associated with memory benefits," Dr. Devore said.
Source : Medscape
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