Blueberries May Help Slow Cognitive Decline
Over 5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a number that’s expected to rise to more than 7 million by 2025. A recent two-part study suggests that blueberries may help slow the progression of mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Participants in the first study included 47 people age 68 and older with mild cognitive impairment. The participants were given either freeze-dried blueberry or a placebo powder daily for 16 weeks. At the conclusion of the study period, the researchers noted improved memory as well as improved access to words and concepts in the blueberry group. In addition, fMRI showed increased brain activity in the blueberry group.
Participants in the second study included 94 people between the ages of 62 and 80 who did not have diagnoses of cognitive issues, but did subjectively feel that their memories were getting worse. They were given blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and blueberry powder, or a placebo. The researchers found that while the results were not as “robust” as in the first study, there were slight improvements in cognition in the blueberry powder group and the fish oil group alone. However, there were not significant differences in memory, and the fMRI results did not show as great an increase in brain activity.
The researchers suggested that the less robust findings of the second study could be related to the fact that the participants in that study did not have symptoms as severe as those in the first study.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center conducted the study. It was presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society which took place in March 2016.
Blueberries are high in flavonoids, particularly anthocyanins and flavanols. Previous studies suggest that they may help decrease the risk of dementia, aid in weight management, improve blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
Blueberries are easy to add to your diet because they go well with pancakes, salads and smoothies. They can also be consumed in a powdered form that can be turned into a drink, as they were in this study.