Berries help protect brain against ageing

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: Eating berries could be a pleasant way of protecting the brain against ageing and memory loss.

Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are rich in compounds called polyphenolics, which help the brain carry out `housekeeping` functions.

Taking fruits with deep orange, red or blue pigments can even reverse brain power loss, according to a study of lab rats fed berry-rich diet, reports the Telegraph.

"The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline," Shibu Poulose told the American Chemical Society.

Poulose, who conducted research with the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service in Boston, explained: "In ageing, microglia (specific kind of cells) fail to do their work, and debris builds up."

Polyphenolics help microglia, which cleanse toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other symptoms of mental decline.

Besides, "the microglia become over-activated and actually begin to damage healthy cells in the brain.

"Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries," added Poulose.