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|Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor|
In addition to being delicious, berries are packed full of phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The latest review of research suggests that the compounds found in berries could be beneficial to brain health.
The USDA Agricultural Research Service researchers published their findings February 3, 2012, online ahead of print in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry.
The researchers reviewed the findings of human, animal and clinical trials that examined the link between berries and brain health. They determined that the phytochemicals found in berries may help the brain stay healthy in several ways. Primarily, they may protect the brain from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
They also found that compounds found in berries actually changes the way the neurons in the brain communicate, which could lead to less inflammation and damage to the brain. Less damage would result in improvements in motor control and cognitive function.
At this point the researchers are unsure whether these benefits are due to compounds that all berries have in common or if unique combinations of elements found in each berry happen to have similar effects. They plan to conduct more research to determine the exact mechanisms behind the benefits seen in their analysis.
The phytochemicals found in berries have previously been linked with weight management, reducing cholesterol and possibly preventing some cancers. Berries can easily be added to your daily diet by including them in a balanced breakfast of whole grains and yogurt or substituting frozen berries for your favorite dessert.
While this study focused specifically on berries, other foods that contain high numbers of phytochemicals include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, and herbs.
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