Extracts of blueberry and strawberry may help protect the brain against age-related oxidative stress, and could even protect astronauts from the dangerous effects of radiation in outer space.1
Oxidative stress is associated with cognitive decline, diminished memory, and impaired motor function. In a new study partly sponsored by NASA, male rats were fed a diet enriched with either a 2% blueberry or strawberry extract, or a control diet, for eight weeks. Half the animals in each group were then exposed to a radioactive iron source, which induces symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.
The animals that received radiation but no berry extracts showed decreased levels of a brain signaling biochemical, as well as impaired performance in a task related to memory. Those receiving the antioxidant-rich berries were protected against these changes. Furthermore, the strawberry-fed animals better retained information related to spatial location, while the blueberry-fed animals demonstrated improved learning ability.
The scientists concluded that antioxidant-rich berry fruits may help slow brain aging and could one day be used to protect astronauts against the damaging effects of space radiation.