Intake of antioxidant-rich foods reduces brain damage from ischemic stroke and improves post-stroke movement recovery in test animals, according to scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, MD.1
Previous studies have demonstrated that an antioxidant-rich diet protects aging animals from neurodegenerative changes. The Maryland study investigated a potential protective role of antioxidant-rich foods against ischemia, or lack of oxygen, as occurs with stroke.
For four weeks, adult rats were fed either a control diet or one supplemented with blueberry, spinach, or spirulina. Strokes were then surgically simulated in the rats. Those that received the blueberry-, spinach-, or spirulina-enriched diets had a significantly reduced volume of infarction in the cerebral cortex and an increase in post-stroke locomotor activity. Rats supplemented with blueberry or spinach had half as much brain damage as the control group, while the spirulina group had stroke lesions that were 75% smaller than those in the untreated group.1
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, and abundant intake of these plant-based foods has been reported to help improve health and reduce the incidence of disease.2 Blueberries, spinach, and spirulina are rich in phytochemicals—including carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins—and have demonstrated particularly powerful antioxidant and free radical-scavenging activity.2,3 The Maryland study suggests a role for antioxidant-rich foods in protecting the brain against the effects of stroke.1
—Christie C. Yerby, ND