- Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.
- Drinking 30ml of blueberry juice for 12 weeks improves blood flow to the brain and improves memory.
Flavonoids, which are abundant in plants, are likely to be an important component in improving and preserving cognitive function.
Drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older people, according to research by the University of Exeter.
‘Concentrated blueberry juice every day for 12 weeks showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain.’
Blueberries & Brain Health
Blueberries improve motor skills and might even reduce an individual's risk of Alzheimer's disease. In animal studies, the results of the tests showed that older animals that were kept on a blueberry-rich diet improved their learning capacity and motor skills which suggests that blueberries for brain health may have practical applications for humans.
Previous research has shown that risk of dementia is reduced by higher fruit and vegetable intake, and cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati proved that blueberries can help maintain memory function and prevent cognitive degeneration. Memory loss and cognitive degeneration are also closely linked to depression in seniors and the researchers found that a diet that was supplemented by blueberries had a positive effect on all three problems.
Blueberries vs. Blueberry Concentrate
Twenty six healthy adults aged 65-77 were recruited for the study. Twelve were given concentrated blueberry juice - providing the equivalent of 230g of blueberries - once a day, while 14 received a placebo.
The study excluded anyone who said they consumed more than five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and all participants were told to stick to their normal diet throughout.
Dr Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said, "Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods."
Before and after the 12-week period, participants took a range of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow was measured.
Compared to the placebo group, those who took the blueberry supplement showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests.
"In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults."
Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids, which are abundant in plants, are likely to be an important component in causing these effects.
- Joanna L. Bowtell et al., Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation, Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (2017)