Polyphenols in grapes and blueberries help cut your “mental age”
06/25/2021 / By Brocky Wilson / Comments
Polyphenols in grapes and blueberries help cut your “mental age”

Here’s another good reason to eat more grapes and blueberries: Both of these superfoods are rich in anti-aging nutrients that help keep your memory sharp as you age.

That’s according to a study from French and Canadian researchers, who found that a polyphenol extract from grapes and blueberries helps cut the “mental age” of the elderly. This means they’re aging healthily and their brains work at a level comparable to what’s seen in younger people.

Grape and blueberry extract linked to better memory

Polyphenols are a group of compounds found naturally in plants. They include flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans and stilbenes. These nutrients have antioxidant and other beneficial properties that can protect against diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s dementia.

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Past studies show that polyphenols in berries can halt age-related cognitive decline. With that in mind, the researchers examined the effect of a polyphenol-rich extract from grapes and blueberries on the memory of elderly adults.

To that end, they recruited participants between the ages of 60 and 70 who ate a diet with a moderate amount of polyphenols. They defined moderate polyphenol consumption as two or less servings of red fruit a week, a cup or less of tea a day or less than 140 grams of dark chocolate a week.

For six months, some of the participants took a grape and blueberry supplement that contained 258 mg of flavonoids twice a day. Meanwhile, others took a placebo that contained no flavonoid over the same time period.

All of the participants took a battery of memory function tests and provided samples of their urine at the end of the intervention. The results of those tests showed that the grape and blueberry extract improved the episodic memory of the participants with advanced age-related cognitive decline.

Episodic memory is a category of long-term memory that involves the recollection of specific events, situations and experiences. Your memories of your first day of school, your first kiss, attending your best friend’s birthday party and your college graduation are all examples of episodic memories.

Interestingly, the participants with cognitive decline consumed smaller amounts of polyphenols before the study. Their urine also contained more polyphenol metabolites (substances formed during the metabolism of polyphenols) compared to the healthy participants. This suggested that they were the most active metabolizers of polyphenols, according to Barry Ritz, chief scientific officer of Atrium Innovations, which co-funded the study.

In all, the findings showed that the grape and blueberry extract slows age-related memory decline in people with failing brain health.

“It was the poorer performing subjects that had the most room for improvement and showed the most improvement,” Ritz said. “Subjects who were performing like 83 year olds at the beginning, they were performing like 69 year olds at the end.”

More berries for healthy aging

Blueberries and grapes are not the only berries rich in antioxidants. The following superfoods are also chock-full of polyphenols that keep you healthy as you age:

  • Raspberries – These dessert favorites are rich in vitamin C, manganese and polyphenols called ellagitannins. Studies show that drinking a beverage with raspberries and other berries reduces oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause DNA damage and make you age faster than normal.
  • Goji berries – These fruits contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, both of which keep your eyes healthy. Studies show that eating a milk-based formulation of goji berries reduces age-related decline in eye health.
  • Strawberries – These antioxidant-rich superfoods are super beneficial to your heart. Studies show that strawberries can reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, increased oxidative stress and elevated blood levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals.
  • Bilberries – These fruits are often mistaken for blueberries because they resemble each other. The difference is that bilberries are native to Europe while blueberries are native to North America. Bilberries help reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease and promote weight loss.
  • Acai berries – These berries grow on the native acai palm tree in the Amazon Rainforest. They may not be as popular as other berries but they contain more polyphenols compared to most other varieties. In fact, researchers say that acai berries have 10 times as many antioxidants as blueberries, which are widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, sources of antioxidants.
  • Cranberries – These superfoods help reduce urinary tract infections, but their health benefits go beyond that. Studies show that drinking cranberry juice also protects against infections in the stomach, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduces arterial stiffness. Eat the skin as it contains most of the antioxidants in cranberries.

Berries like grapes and blueberries are chock-full of nutrients that improve your memory and slow age-related cognitive decline. Eat more of these anti-aging superfoods to keep your brain healthy as you age.

Sources:

NutraIngredients-USA.com

MedicalNewsToday.com

Academic.OUP.com

VeryWellMind.com

Healthline.com

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