We have long known about the antioxidant properties of strawberries and blueberries to help us stay healthy. Now, a new study from the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts finds that a high intake of flavonoid rich berries, like strawberries and blueberries, over time, can delay memory decline in older women by 2.5 years. Recently published by "Annals of Neurology", a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, the large-scale berry study has a massive amount of data, analyzed over such a long period of time.

"Among [older] women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week we saw a modest reduction in memory decline. This effect appears to be attainable with relatively simple dietary modifications", explained Elizabeth Devore, a researcher in the Channing Laboratory at BWH and lead author on this study.

The research team used data from the Nurses' Health Study---a cohort of 121,700 female, registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55---who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires beginning in 1976. Since 1980, they surveyed participants every four years regarding their frequency of food consumption. Between 1995 and 2001, memory was measured in 16,010 subjects with a mean age of 74, at two-year intervals.

A greater intake of *anthocyanidins and total flavonoids was also associated with reduced memory decline. Researchers observed that women who had higher berry intake had delayed memory decline by up to 2.5 years.

This study is the first epidemiologic evidence that berries appear to slow progression of memory decline in elderly women," notes Dr. Devore. Their findings have significant public health implications for reducing memory decline in older adults with the simple dietary modification of increasing berry intake.

Expect more such studies pinpoint the valuable properties of nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables. Supplement manufacturers will market isolated forms of these nutrients; however, we believe that further study will demonstrate the necessity of eating fruits/vegetables in their natural state. The Raw Movement will attract more adherents, as more is known about the value of eating all kinds of foods in their natural, unprocessed states.

This study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (P01 CA87969) and the California Strawberry Commission. The study was independently controlled by the investigators who performed the data analysis.


Devore, E., Kang, J., Breteler, M., & Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline Annals of Neurology DOI: 10.1002/ana.23594