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Blueberry concentrate improves brain function in older people

By cwan | June 19th, 2017

Human cognitive function tends to decline as we get older. Many researches have shown that risk of dementia is reduced by higher fruit and vegetable intake, and that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods. The consensus from the scientific community is that flavonoids, which are abundant in plants, are likely to be an important component in causing these effects.

In a study by the researchers from the University of Exeter of UK, 26 healthy adults aged 65-77 were divided into two groups: 12 were given concentrated blueberry juice, rich in flavonoids, — providing the equivalent of 230g of blueberries — once a day, while 14 received a placebo. 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, the blueberry group showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests. Specifically, the study showed 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 sweet, nutritious and wildly popular. Often labeled a “superfood,” they are low in calories and incredibly good for you. Blueberries are believed to contain one of the highest antioxidant content of commonly consumed fruits and vegetables with the main antioxidant compounds as flavonoids. The Exeter study seems to reinforce the existing belief that flavonoids benefits the brain function in older adults.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Joanna L. Bowtell, Zainie Aboo-Bakkar, Myra Conway, Anna-Lynne R. Adlam, Jonathan Fulford. Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2017; DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0550
Source: Informed Nutrition