Willis, L.M., B. Shukitt-Hale, J.A. Joseph, 2009. Modulation of cognition and behavior in aged animals: role for antioxidant- and essential fatty acid–rich plant foods. Am J Clin Nutr. 89 (suppl):1602S–6S.
Aging results in the development of cognitive and motor deficits in humans and animals that are evident by midlife. These deficits are thought to stem from neuronal damage and dysfunction as a result of a variety of stressors, including increased oxidative stress and modifications in brain lipid composition. Recent clinical and animal studies have identified nutritional intervention as a viable method to curtail the cognitive aging process. Human studies have been primarily observational and have indicated that inclusion of antioxidant-rich foods in the diet can slow the progression of cognitive decline. Basic science studies investigating nutritional modulation of age-related cognitive decline have focused on foods rich in antioxidants or essential fatty acids. The purpose of this review is to discuss recent advancements in animal research showing that age-related cognitive and behavioral decline can be ameliorated with nutritional supplementation with polyphenol- or polyunsaturated fatty acid–rich plant foods.