fresh berriesOxidative stress is a situation where chemical “bullets”, like electrons or radiation create damage to living tissue. The nutrients and phytochemicals that we call antioxidants work like chemical “bullet-proof vests”, protecting the cells. Extracts from blueberries and strawberries act as antioxidants. According to research appearing in Neurobiological Aging (July 10, 2006 [e published ahead of print]), berry extracts can protect the brain. Male rats were divided into three groups. One group was fed a daily extract from strawberries, one group was fed an extract from blueberries, and the other acted as a control. After eight weeks, half of the rats in each group were exposed to radioactive iron (which is known to cause cognitive decline).

The rats in the control group experienced decreased levels of brain activity and had poor performance with tasks related to memory after being exposed to the radiation. The rats receiving the berry extracts fared much better. In particular, the group that received the strawberry extract had better performance with activities related to spatial location and those receiving blueberry had improvement in learning ability. Berries may slow the aging of the brain and protect it from oxidative damage.