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Berry Good Medicine

THEY are little blue nutritional packages that could hold the key to staying mentally fit into old age.

New research has found that eating blueberries makes the brain more resistant to deterioration and enhances cognition and motor skills in the elderly.

"If you only eat one fruit a day, make it blueberries," says James Joseph, of the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University, Boston.

Dr Joseph's research into the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries has shown they can slow the effects of ageing on the brain in rodents and humans.

Speaking at the International Conference on Longevity in Sydney yesterday, Dr Joseph said compounds found in berries could be used to treat neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The chemicals in blueberries slowed the effects of ageing on the brain by helping neurons "talk" to each other, and enhancing memory and motor skills, he said. Mice fed blueberries were better able to grow new neurons.

Dr Joseph, who eats one to two cups of blueberries a day, said tests on humans with an average age of 65 showed eating blueberries increased reaction times by 6 per cent.

Source Date: Mar 08 2004
Source Publication: The Australian, Australia
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