Blueberries: A Fountain of Health

Feeling unbalanced? Research suggests that adding blueberries to your diet can reverse the effect of aging on coordination, thanks to the large dose of flavonoids they deliver.

If you're worried that your motor skills are waning with age, try adding blueberries to your daily diet. Apparently, this tasty berry may just counterbalance poor coordination.

In a 1999 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, James Joseph, Ph.D., of Tufts University, found that a diet rich in blueberries reversed age-related declines in balance and coordination. In the study, Joseph fed four groups of rats a normal diet, but three of the groups were also given either strawberry, spinach or blueberry extracts. Throughout the 18-week study, the animals were tested for coordination, balance, muscle strength and mental functioning.

Although the groups fed strawberry and blueberry extract performed well on balance and coordination tests, the rats fed blueberries showed the most improvement. Results also showed that neuron, or nerve cell, functioning improved among rats fed blueberry extract. Joseph suspects the findings are a result of blueberries' rich store of flavonoids -- phytochemicals that affect cell membranes.

These findings offer hope to those suffering from age-related declines in balance and coordination, which are often difficult to reverse. They suggest that nutritional intervention with fruits and vegetables may play an important role in reversing the damaging effects of aging on nerve cell function and behavior.

Psychology Today Magazine, Mar/Apr 2001
Last Reviewed 11 Jul 2005
Article ID: 32