Study Spotlight

Study Spotlight

Your Memory is Better with the Blues…


With an aging population comes an increase in dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive impairments. Anthocyanin plant nutrients are powerful allies in preserving memory by inhibiting inflammatory and oxidative damage that can affect brain cells and neural pathways.

Blueberries have long been considered one of the best “brain foods” because of their anthocyanin content, availability, and good flavor. A clinical study examined the effects of blueberry anthocyanins in a 12-week trial of older adults with early memory challenges which can – but don’t always – signify more serious issues in the future.

By the close of the study, wild blueberry juice improved learning and recall test scores, and appeared to reduce symptoms of depression. The fact that such changes could occur in only three months with such a simple regimen shows the great strength of blueberry compounds. Considering that there are estimates of up to 16 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the United States alone by the year 2050, It’s imperative to find safe and effective intervention – and possible preventative – for cognitive decline. The good news is that it might be as close as your grocery store.

Abstract:

Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, Kalt W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk MR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):3996-4000.

The prevalence of dementia is increasing with expansion of the older adult population. In the absence of effective therapy, preventive approaches are essential to address this public health problem. Blueberries contain polyphenolic compounds, most prominently anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, anthocyanins have been associated with increased neuronal signaling in brain centers, mediating memory function as well as improved glucose disposal, benefits that would be expected to mitigate neurodegeneration. This study investigated the effects of daily consumption of wild blueberry juice in a sample of nine older adults with early memory changes. At 12 weeks, improved paired associate learning (p = 0.009) and word list recall (p = 0.04) were observed. In addition, there were trends suggesting reduced depressive symptoms (p = 0.08) and lower glucose levels (p = 0.10). We also compared the memory performances of the blueberry subjects with a demographically matched sample who consumed a berry placebo beverage in a companion trial of identical design and observed comparable results for paired associate learning. The findings of this preliminary study suggest that moderate-term blueberry supplementation can confer neurocognitive benefit and establish a basis for more comprehensive human trials to study preventive potential and neuronal mechanisms.

Link to complete article: Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults

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