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Antioxidant-rich diets reduce brain damage from stroke in rats

Tampa, FL (April 12, 2005) -- Your mother was right. Eat your fruits and veggies -- they're good for you!

And if that's not reason enough, a new study suggests antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may limit brain damage from stroke and other neurological disorders. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida (USF)College of Medicine, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is posted online and will be published in the May issue of the journal Experimental Neurology.

USF/VA neuroscientist Paula Bickford, PhD, and colleagues found that rats fed diets preventatively enriched with blueberries, spinach or an algae known as spirulina experienced less brain cell loss and improved recovery of movement following a stroke.

The study builds upon previous USF/VA research showing that diets enriched with blueberries, spinach or spirulina reversed normal age-related declines in memory and learning in old rats.

"I was amazed at the extent of neuroprotection these antioxidant-rich diets provided," said Dr. Bickford, a researcher at the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair and James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital. "The size of the stroke was 50 to 75 percent less in rats treated with diets supplemented with blueberries, spinach or spirulina before the stroke."

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances in these fruits and vegetables may somehow reduce the nerve cell injury and death triggered by a stroke, the researchers suggest. "The clinical implication is that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may make a difference in the severity of a stroke," Dr. Bickford said. "It could be a readily available, inexpensive and relatively safe way to benefit stroke patients."

The researchers studied four groups of rats, all fed equal amounts of food for one month. One group was fed rat chow supplemented with blueberries, a second group chow with spinach, and the third chow w
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@hsc.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
12-Apr-2005


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