Visualize this: The enormity of the challenge presented by Alzheimer’s disease juxtaposed against the smallness of blueberries.
While this may seem like a David and Goliath scenario, some researchers have found that these small blue fruits may be beneficial in improving cognitive function and memory in some older adults.
The power behind the blueberry slingshot is anthocyanins, compounds that give blueberries their color. Although these potent antioxidants are found in other foods-including red cabbage, eggplant, and cranberries-they are present in especially high amounts in blueberries.
Two New Blueberry Studies
The latest two studies of the relationship between blueberries and Alzheimer’s disease are certainly not the first to explore this issue, but as the lead author, Robert Krikorian, from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Ohio, explained, “Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults.”
Here’s what the authors of the new research endeavors found. In one study, 47 adults with mild cognitive impairment took either a placebo or freeze-dried blueberry powder (equivalent to one serving of fresh berries) daily for 16 weeks. The participants who took the blueberry powder showed an improvement in memory, brain activity, and access to words and concepts when compared with the placebo group.
In the second study, 94 adults (62-80 years) who self-reported memory decline were assigned to one of four groups: blueberry powder, fish oil alone, fish oil plus blueberry powder, or placebo. Adults who took either fish oil or blueberry powder alone showed an improvement in cognition but only a slight improvement in memory.
The Power of Blueberries
So should blueberries be on your menu on a regular basis? Generally, blueberries are valued for their high antioxidant content and their potential for maintaining healthy bones, assisting with weight loss, lowering blood pressure, managing diabetes, preventing cancer and heart disease, improving mental health, aiding digestion, and supporting skin health. Any one or more of these reasons could be an incentive to go blue!
When it comes to memory and cognitive functioning, thus far the research findings involving blueberry consumption have been promising. Krikorian and his team, who presented their findings at the American Chemical Society meeting on March 14, 2016, are planning to conduct further research in this area, enrolling individuals aged 50 to 65 and who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease-people who have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or obesity. The challenge of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is enormous, but the mighty tiny blueberry may help in the quest to take it down.
Sources: American Chemical Society. Blueberries, the well-known ‘super fruit,’ could help fight Alzheimers
Medical News Today. Blueberries: health benefits, facts, research