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Ask Tufts Experts July 2015 Issue

Q. Do blackberries have similar brain benefits from polyphenols as seen in blueberries?

A. “Increased dietary intake of berry fruit, in particular, has a positive impact on human health, performance, and disease,” says Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PhD, of Tufts’ HNRCA Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory. Shukitt-Hale and colleagues, who have shown cognitive benefits from blueberry consumption, performed a similar experiment with blackberry extracts. Their study, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, tested a 2% blackberry-supplemented diet for its effectiveness in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuron function when fed to aged rats for eight weeks. “The results showed that the blackberry diet improved motor performance on three tasks which rely on balance and coordination.… Results for a water maze showed that the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater working, or short-term, memory performance than the control rats. These data support our previous investigations in which we have seen improved motor and cognitive performance in aged rats after supplementation with other berry fruits.”

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