Blueberries have recently been presented as a new prevention against Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to their potential for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Blueberries have been known as a super fruit since they can cut the heart disease and cancer risk. A few days ago, a study conducted by Robert Krikorian, Ph.D, and colleagues at University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center showed that they could be a new weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers have highlighted the benefits of blueberries on memory and cognitive function, which could help fight against the devastating effects of forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.
“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. Blueberries’ beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve animals’ cognition,” said Krikorian.
For the findings, Krikorian and colleagues followed earlier trials with two human studies.
One looked at 47 American adults aged 68 and older with mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers gave them either freeze-dried blueberry powder, equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.
The participants received the powder had an improvement in memory and brain function, compared to those who got the placebo. They also showed increased brain activity in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).
The second study was undertaken with 94 participants, aged 62 to 80, who subjectively felt their memories were declining despite having no objectively measured cognitive issues. They were categorized into 4 groups and received blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder, as well as a placebo, respectively.
In this study, they found some thinking improvement for those given blueberry powder or fish oil. However, there was no improvement in memory and the MRI scan showed little specific increase in activity.
Krikorian explained the difference in results may be because of the fact that the second wave of participants had less severe brain health issues than those in the first experiments.
Based on the results, the researchers suggested 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 those who have not yet developed cognitive problems.
The scientists expressed that they also want to conduct a similar study on younger people, aged 50 to 65, and individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, including obesity, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. This research is expected to help them understand more about the blueberries’ efficiency.
There are 5.3 million people currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. But that number is expected to increase, Krikorian notes, as the U.S. population ages. By 2025, the number of Americans with this degenerative disorder could rise 40 percent to more than 7 million, and it could almost triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.