The delicious blueberries which are already labelled as ‘super fruit’ owing to their power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer could now be a promising food supplement to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, physical disease that affects the brain and leads to dementia ( memory loss).
According to a new research conducted by Krikorian and colleagues at University of Cincinnati Academic Health Centre, consumption of blueberry powder was associated with improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo. The study was presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
How Was The Research Conducted?
The researchers conducted 2 studies.The first study involved 47 adults aged 68 and older, who had mild cognitive impairment (problem with memory and learning) which is a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers gave them either freeze-dried blueberry powder, which is equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.
The second study included 94 people aged 62 to 80 who did not have measurable cognitive decline but reported experiencing memory loss. They were tested with blueberry powder, fish oil and a placebo.
What Are The Key Findings Of The Research?
The first study revealed that there was improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo. The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts.
The second study showed that there was some thinking improvement for those who were given blueberry powder or fish oil, but there was little effect on memory. Researchers suggested that this could be due to the fact participants in the second study had less severe issues than those in the first study
So, How Does This happen?
Researchers suggest that the beneficial effect could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins which have been shown to improve cognition in animals.Blueberries also contain significant amounts of micro-nutrients and fiber.
Does The New Study Matter?
It could be too early to confirm the role of blueberries in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers are of the view that blueberries may be more effective in treating patients with cognitive impairments, but may not show measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or who have not yet developed cognitive problems.
Now the researchers plan to conduct a blueberry study with a younger group, aged 50 to 65, including people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, such as those who are obese, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The new work could help the researchers determine if blueberries could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
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Whether or not they prevent Alzheimer’s, adding blueberries to your daily diet is always a great idea to improve your overall health and well being. So, go ahead and add a handful of these delicious berries to your smoothies, breakfast cereals or salads.