Blueberries Give Your Brain a Boost

As one of nature’s most delicious fruits, blueberries score big when it comes to their taste. They also have great potential for keeping the brain healthy and working strong. Part of that power comes from compounds in the fruit called anthocyanins. These components help strengthen blood vessels, which may in turn, keep sections of the mind active.

In a clinical study, older adults supplemented with a whole blueberry powder for 16 weeks. They performed working memory cognitive tasks and underwent brain scans to see whether or not the blueberry nutrients provided better signaling.

While memory-associated tasks surprisingly didn’t seem as affected by blueberries compared to the placebo group, there was increased signal activity in the brain in the blueberry group. Despite the findings for working memory tasks, the researchers stated: “These trials indicate that nutritional approaches such as blueberry supplementation may induce beneficial effects for brain function and cognitive behavior. Further, such nutritional interventions can be instituted readily with little or no risk. In the absence of effective pharmacotherapy, such nutritional approaches may be of particular value for aging adults with risk for late-life dementia such as AD.”

No doubt that eating blueberries and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods is one of the best courses for anyone to take, regardless of their age or condition. It will be fascinating to see the findings of future research on this remarkable food.

Abstract:

Boespflug EL, Eliassen JC, Dudley JA, et al. Enhanced neural activation with blueberry supplementation in mild cognitive impairment. Nutr Neurosci. 2018;21(4):297–305. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2017.1287833

Objectives: Preclinical studies have shown that blueberry supplementation can improve cognitive performance and neuronal function in aged animals and have identified associations between anthocyanins and such benefits. Preliminary human trials also suggest cognitive improvement in older adults, although direct evidence of enhancement of brain function has not been demonstrated. In this study, we investigated the effect of blueberry supplementation on regional brain activation in older adults at risk for dementia.

Methods: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial we performed pre- and post-intervention functional magnetic resonance imaging during a working memory task to assess the effect of blueberry supplementation on blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal in older adults with mild cognitive impairment, a risk condition for dementia.

Results: Following daily supplementation for 16 weeks, blueberry-treated participants exhibited increased BOLD activation in the left pre-central gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and left inferior parietal lobe during working memory load conditions (corrected p < 0.01). There was no clear indication of working memory enhancement associated with blueberry supplementation. Diet records indicated no between-group difference in anthocyanin consumption external to the intervention.

Discussion: These data demonstrate, for the first time, enhanced neuronal response during working memory challenge in blueberry-treated older adults with cognitive decline and are consistent with prior trials showing neurocognitive benefit with blueberry supplementation in this at-risk population.

Follow this link for the complete study: Enhanced Neuronal Activation with Blueberry Supplementation in Mild Cognitive Impairment

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.

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