WANT to stay sharp into your old age and support brain health naturally through diet? According to research, blackcurrants could hold the key.
Exciting research is suggesting you may be able to boost your brain power and keep your brain healthy with anthocyanins, naturally-occurring fruit pigments that New Zealand blackcurrants are becoming famous for.
There is mounting evidence that diet and lifestyle play an important role in brain health and preventing age-related health disorders, and eating a flavonoid-rich diet may improve your brain health, cognitive function and memory.
Studies have found that flavonoids found in berries improve blood flow to the brain and also increase the number of, and strengthen the connections between, neurons, because of their suggested ability to improve cell signalling.6
Now, researchers in New Zealand are excited about the discovery that locally-grown blackcurrants naturally contain a nutrient – or to be specific, a neuropeptide - called cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP), which is important for maintaining brain function as we age.
The paper9, published in the Journal Nutrients last year, found 600mg daily intake of a New Zealand blackcurrant extract for 28 days increased cGP levels by 19% in subjects tested in the study.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the scientist leading the project, Dr Jian Guan, an associate professor at the University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research, came across this world-first finding in blackcurrants by pure chance in the course of her research.
The newspaper reports she found patients who were consuming this New Zealand berry fruit as part of their diets had elevated levels of cGP. The findings are exciting because: "it is something completely natural with potential to support the health of ageing people and their lifestyles".
Dr Guan says there are strong possibilities for New Zealand blackcurrants to be used in benefiting people with other health issues. “It’s unique to see a response like this in a natural product,” she says.
And if you needed any more encouragement, check out this fascinating BBC program, ‘How To Stay Young’, in which scientists declare anthocyanins are critical to keeping our brain healthy as we age – and that we should include several servings of ‘purple’ to our daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
- Effect of flavonoids on learning, memory and neurocognitive performance: relevance and potential implications for Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology. Vauzour D. J Sci Food Agric.2014 Apr;94(6):1042-56. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6473. Epub 2013 Dec 12.
- Dietary levels of pure flavonoids improve spatial memory performance and increase hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Rendeiro C1, Vauzour D, Rattray M, Waffo-Téguo P, Mérillon JM, Butler LT, Williams CM, Spencer JP. PLoS One.2013 May 28;8(5):e63535. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063535. Print 2013.
- Dietary polyphenols as modulators of brain functions: biological actions and molecular mechanisms underpinning their beneficial effects. Vauzour D. vOxid Med Cell Longev.2012;2012:914273. doi: 10.1155/2012/914273. Epub 2012 Jun
- Neuroinflammation: modulation by flavonoids and mechanisms of action. Spencer JP1, Vafeiadou K, Williams RJ, Vauzour D. Mol Aspects Med.2012 Feb;33(1):83-97. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2011.10.016. Epub 2011 Nov 15.
- Polyphenols and human health: prevention of disease and mechanisms of action. Vauzour D1, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Corona G, Oruna-Concha MJ, Spencer JP. Nutrients.2010 Nov;2(11):1106-31. doi: 10.3390/nu2111106. Epub 2010 Nov 8.
- Flavonoids and cognition: the molecular mechanisms underlying their behavioural effects. Spencer JP1, Vauzour D, Rendeiro C. Arch Biochem Biophys.2009 Dec;492(1-2):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Oct 12.
- The neuroprotective potential of flavonoids: a multiplicity of effects. Vauzour D1, Vafeiadou K, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Rendeiro C, Spencer JPGenes Nutr. 2008 Dec;3(3-4):115-26. doi: 10.1007/s12263-008-0091-4.Brain Res. 2014 Mar 25;1555:60-77. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.01.047. Epub 2014 Feb 3.
- Neuroprotective effects of anthocyanin- and proanthocyanidin-rich extracts in cellular models of Parkinson׳s disease.Strathearn KE1, Yousef GG2, Grace MH2, Roy SL1, Tambe MA1, Ferruzzi MG3, Wu QL4, Simon JE4, Lila MA2, Rochet JC5.
- Supplementation of Blackcurrant Anthocyanins Increased Cyclic Glycine-Proline in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of Parkinson Patients: Potential Treatment to Improve Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Function. Fan D1,2,3, Alamri Y4,5,6, Liu K7,8,9, MacAskill M10, Harris P11, Brimble M12,13, Dalrymple-Alford J14,15,16, Prickett T17, Menzies O18, Laurenson A19, Anderson T20,21,22,23,24,25, Guan J26,27,28. Nutrients 2018 Jun 2;10(6). pii: E714. doi: 10.3390/nu10060714.