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Blueberries May Help Stave Off Dementia

A daily glass of blueberry juice may help older adults with early signs of dementia improve memory and elevate mood, according to a study published in the January 2010 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

As the population ages, the prevalence of dementia is increasing rapidly and with a lack of effective therapeutic approaches, finding more preventative measures is essential.

Blueberries have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to polyphenolic compounds called anthocyanins. Researchers decided to study their potential for preventing neurodegenerative diseases because these compounds have been shown to increase neural activity.

For the study, researchers from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center recruited 9 individuals with an average age of 76 and an average educational level of 15.6 years.

The participants were given about 17oz of blueberry juice (the actual dosage varied depending on participant's weight) or a placebo for 12 weeks.

By the end of the 12 weeks, the participants receiving the blueberry juice saw improvements in learning and memory. There was also a slight trend towards reduction in depressive symptoms.

The researchers plan to conduct future studies with larger populations. They would also like to see if the increases in cognitive function have any connection to metabolic improvements among the study participants.

Wild blueberries have the highest antioxidant levels of any common fruit so their health benefits go far beyond their potential for preventing neurogenerative diseases. For instance, they have been shown to help with weight management, reduce cholesterol and may even prevent some cancers.

A good way to incorporate more of these antioxidant packed fruits into your diet is by adding them to pancakes, salads and smoothies.

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