Blueberries are known to have various benefits such as being rich in vitamin C, being anti-inflammatory due to its rich anti-oxidant content, reducing blood cholesterol levels, improving heart health, reducing cancer risk and even helping relieve all sorts of digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea.1 2
Blueberries In Your Brain
Little was known that these squishy little dark-purple fruits had something called ‘anthocyanins’, which has proven to be the secret to improving the memory and cognitive processes of some adults. Anthocyanins, are what give blueberries its purplish hue and are a strain of the antioxidant called flavonoids, said the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Antioxidants are said to slower the aging of our body’s cells, although it is still not fully agreed on by some scientists as well as the National Institutes of Health.
However, Dr. Robert Krikorian and his group of research scientists from the University of Cincinnati, proved that adding a handful of blueberries to your diet could help you potentially avoid any slumps in your neurocognition i.e. brains memory functions and even prevent dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. This adds to the well-known fact that eating a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is extremely beneficial to one’s health, especially some foods which help combat ailments.
Blueberries versus Dementia
Some of the ailments these scientists saw was blueberry’s impact on Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that creates issues in one’s behavior, thinking and especially memory. It can affect even the healthiest brains, as early-on signs are close to invisible but start to get worse as time progresses.
This neurodegenerative disease can become so chronic that it can become hard for people to carry out their everyday tasks. Those that survive long enough, usually die because of the final stages of the disease which damages their vital functions such as breathing, lung capacity and even heartbeat.
With this in mind, Dr. Robert and his team conducted two experiments to show that blueberries help improve neurocognitive functioning.
They took lesser than 50 adults aged 68 years and above, who were showing mild signs of cognitive degeneration, i.e. initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s, they did a brain scan and some preparatory tests for each candidate.
Next, they formed two groups where, the first group were given a placebo once a day for the less than 20 weeks, while the second group was given dried and frozen blueberry powder (equal to one cup of berries).
They conducted the same tests for both groups and kept comparing how each fared, making sure to keep some variables constant.
The final result showed that the group who consumed the blueberry powder had improved cognitive functioning and neurological performance, such as better memory, recall of words or concepts and the like. In addition, the concluding brain scan of the study, of those eating the blueberry powder, showed more activity in the areas of the brain which once showed degeneration, as well.
The team’s second study picked close to 95 candidates aged from 62 to 80, who all complained of some memory issues. Although the researchers’ felt these candidates were in a better neurocognitive state than the first group that they studied.
They then divided these candidates into four groups, who were each given: fish oil; blueberry powder; fish oil and powder; or a placebo powder.
Although the results of this study did not match the ones of the first study, due to very whimsical results, their overall cognitive functions did seem less chronic.
Around 5.3 million people in the US suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with its numbers rising as the aging population does, estimated to become 7 million people by the year 2025, says The Alzheimer’s Association.
Although, blueberries did not really display much benefits for minor cognitive issues like memory, the study’s results in totality did show that blueberries treat and help improve the condition of those with significant signs of serious mental impairment. Likewise, previous animal tests also support that anthocyanins better cognition.
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