A daily bowl of strawberries and blueberries may help slow age-related mental decline.
Earlier this month, scientists suggested that men who eat plenty of berries are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
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Now, a US study has found that eating 75 grams of blueberries and 150 grams of strawberries every week can help delay the onset of cognitive ageing by up to 2.5 years.
Scientists in the US analysed health and lifestyle data from the Nurses’ Health Study. The study recruited almost 122,000 registered nurses aged 30 to 55 in 1976.
Between 1995 and 2001, mental ability was measured in 16,010 of the women who were older than 70.
The research, published in the journals Annals of Neurology, showed that those who had consumed larger amounts of strawberries and blueberries appeared to experience slower mental decline.
Study leader Dr Elizabeth Devore, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, said:
"We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.”
Strawberries and blueberries are both high in flavonoids, the antioxidants found in plants. Flavonoids are thought to trigger enzymes that reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related degenerative diseases.
However, whilst the researchers adjusted the study to control other influencing factors, experts say that they could not rule out the possibility of effects from other lifestyle factors.
Dr Eric Karran, from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said:
“Further research will be needed to conclude whether antioxidants in berries are beneficial in the brain and we can't assume that simply eating berries could protect against cognitive ageing or dementia."
Since dementia is considered a chronic condition, it is unlikely to be covered by private medical insurance. For more information call one of our advisors or compare health insurance policies online now.
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