Acai Berry Shows Benefits For Supporting Brain Health According to New Research
Natural Source Of Antioxidants, Carotenoidsand Phytonutrients (anthocyanins), Acai Is Now Recognized For Cognitive and Mental Function
Extracts from acai, blueberries and strawberries may enhance the neuronal "housekeeping" function and potentially protect the brain as people age, suggests new studies.The brain's natural housekeeping mechanism is called autophagy and involves the controlled degradation of cells, including the recycling of toxic proteins. This system declines naturally as we age, but new research suggests that berry extracts may enhance the process and contributes towards brain health.
Researchers at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston presented their findings recently at the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.
Super Fruit from Central and South America
Açai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) have long formed part of the staple diet of Indian tribes. With the appearance of a purple grape and taste of a tropical berry, it has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties thanks to a high level of anthocyanins, pigments that are also present in red wine.
The Tufts University researchers investigated the antiinflammatory effects of Açai extracts in the main defense cells of the brain, the microglia in laboratory subjects.
"Microglial activation can result in the generation of cytotoxic intermediates and is associated with a variety of age-related and neurodegenerative conditions," explained the researchers.
Results indicated that extracted fractions of the Açai pulp protected against the release of pro-inflammatory compounds including COX-2 and TNF-alpha. "These results suggest that Açai may contribute to 'health span' in aging, as it is able to combat some of the inflammatory and oxidative mediators of aging at the cellular level," wrote the researchers.
The researchers noted that additional studies are planned and will "investigate the specific phytochemicals in each of the fractions to determine the most potent and effective component(s) in combating cellular inflammation".
"Future studies will include açaí-supplemented diets in order to determine if açaí is able to reverse or delay age-related motor or cognitive deficits," they added.
The studies are being performed under a Cooperative research Agreement with USDA's National Center on Aging by AIBMR Life Sciences.
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