Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Antioxidant-Rich Diets Improve Age-Related Declines In Mental Function Of Rats

Date:
July 15, 2002
Source:
University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center
Summary:
Two new animal studies by researchers at the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair and James A. Haley Veterans Hospital bolster a growing body of evidence that certain fruits and vegetables may protect the brain against the ravages of age. The complementary research papers appear in today's issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Tampa, FL (July 15, 2002) — Popeye was right — eat your spinach. In fact, add some fresh-cut apples to that spinach salad.

Related Articles


Two new animal studies by researchers at the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair and James A. Haley Veterans Hospital bolster a growing body of evidence that certain fruits and vegetables may protect the brain against the ravages of age. The complementary research papers appear in today's issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"If these pre-clinical findings translate to humans, it suggests that eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may help reverse declines in learning and memory as you get older," Paula Bickford, PhD, lead author of both studies and a professor at the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair.

In the first study, co-authored by USF's M. Claire Cartford, PhD, older rats fed a diet rich in spinach for six weeks showed a reversal in the normal loss of learning that occurs with age. The rats that ate rat chow containing 2 percent freeze-dried spinach learned to associate the sound of a bell tone with a subsequent puff of air faster than those fed regular rat chow, the study found.

The test measured how quickly the rats learned to blink, after hearing the tone, in anticipation of the oncoming puff of air — a conditioned response shown to slow with age in rodents and humans.

Spinach is rich in antioxidants, which scientists say can counteract free radicals generated in the body during normal metabolism and exposure to environmental insults such as pollution, ultraviolet light and radiation. An excess of free radicals can damage cellular lipids, protein and DNA. Studies suggest that a lifelong accumulation of free radicals can slow mental processes in old age and may be a factor in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, Dr. Bickford said.

The second study, co-authored by Carmelina Gemma, PhD, of USF and James A. Haley VA Hospital, found that the benefit of a diet high in fruits and vegetables depends on the levels of antioxidant nutrients in the fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the researchers suggest, the protective effect of antioxidants may be linked to their ability to reverse age-related accumulations of potentially harmful inflammatory substances in the brain.

The USF researchers compared three groups of older rats. One group ate a diet supplemented by spirulina, a blue-green algae high in antioxidant activity. The second group was fed a daily ration of apple, a food moderate in antioxidant activity, with their rat chow. The third group ate a cucumber-enriched diet, low in antioxidant activity.

Aged rats fed either spirulina-or apple-enriched diets for two weeks demonstrated improved neuron function, a suppression of inflammatory substances in the brain, and a decrease in malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker for oxidative damage. In fact, spirulina reversed the impairment in adrenergic neural function normally associated with aging. There was no improvement in rats fed a diet supplemented with cucumber.

"Not all foods are created equal," Dr. Bickford said. "Cucumbers taste good and have lots of fiber. But unlike spirulina and apples, they are not rich in phytochemicals that have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects in the brain."

The research has hopeful implications for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders in an increasingly aging population, but still must be tested in humans, Dr. Bickford said.

Until then, the USF neuroscientist recommends that daily diets include a variety of richly colored fruits and vegetables — the most colorful ones tend to pack the greatest antioxidant punch. She favors spinach salads for lunch and routinely snacks on blueberries and strawberries.

"Studies like these are lending scientific credibility to what nutritionists, and our mothers, have been telling us for years," Dr. Bickford said. "Eat your fruits and vegetables. They're good for you!"

Researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center contributed to the study on diets enriched with spirulina, apples and cucumbers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. "Antioxidant-Rich Diets Improve Age-Related Declines In Mental Function Of Rats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020715074535.htm>.
University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. (2002, July 15). Antioxidant-Rich Diets Improve Age-Related Declines In Mental Function Of Rats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020715074535.htm
University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. "Antioxidant-Rich Diets Improve Age-Related Declines In Mental Function Of Rats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020715074535.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins