Data presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society indicated an association between blueberry consumption and improved cognition, memory and brain function in older adults.
“Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults,” study researcher Robert Krikorian, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati, said in a press release.
To further investigate previous findings, Krikorian and colleagues conducted two human studies. One study included 47 adults, aged 68 years and older, with mild cognitive impairment.
Study participants received freeze-dried blueberry powder, equivalent to one cup of blueberries, or placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.
Findings indicated improvement in cognitive performance and brain function among participants who received blueberry powder.
Compared with placebo, those who consumed blueberry powder exhibited improved memory and access to words and concepts.
Further, functional MRI findings indicated increased brain activity in those who received blueberry powder.
The second study included 94 individuals, aged 62 to 80 years, who subjectively felt their memories were declining. Participants received blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder or placebo.
“The results were not as robust as with the first study,” Krikorian said in the release. “Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory.”
Together, these findings suggest that blueberry powder may more effectively treat individuals with cognitive impairments, with no measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or those who have not yet developed cognitive issues.
The researchers plan to conduct a study of blueberry consumption among a younger cohort of individuals aged 50 to 65 years. Participants will include those with risk for Alzheimer’s disease, including individuals with obesity, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Krikorian R, et al. Blueberry fruit supplementation in human cognitive aging. Presented at: The National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society; March 13-17, 2016; San Diego.
Disclosure: Please see the full study for a list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.