Blueberry concentrate improves brain function in older people

March 7, 2017, University of Exeter
Credit: copyright American Heart Association

Drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older people, according to research by the University of Exeter.

In the study, aged 65-77 who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain while carrying out .

There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory.

Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: "Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy with a diet rich in plant-based foods.

"In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, , brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults."

Of the 26 healthy adults in the study, 12 were given concentrated - 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 and resting brain blood flow was measured.

Compared to the placebo group, those who took the blueberry supplement showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests.

The study excluded anyone who said they consumed more than five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and all participants were told to stick to their normal diet throughout.

Previous research has shown that risk of dementia is reduced by higher fruit and vegetable intake, and cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.

Flavonoids, which are abundant in plants, are likely to be an important component in causing these effects.

Explore further: Orange juice could help improve brain function in elderly people

More information: Joanna L. Bowtell et al, 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

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4 comments

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PocketTrips
not rated yet Mar 07, 2017
The experimental group n=12 – and this is supposed to be valid? What a waste of digital ink.
NoStrings
not rated yet Mar 08, 2017
Just give them Piracetam. O, never mind, that was written about 50 years ago. Can't write an article about the old stuff that works, and call it a groundbreaking discovery. Next article - avocado juice, then carrot juice, etc. etc. etc..
NoStrings
not rated yet Mar 08, 2017
O, yes, orange juice, who could have thought it could be good for anything! An article from 2015. https://medicalxp...tml#nRlv
Mark it down guys, the orange juice was already quacked about.
hakko
not rated yet Mar 10, 2017
Doesn't matter if n=12. It depends on the size of the effect. If the size of the effect is small, then you would need many more subjects to detect any difference. If the effect is large, eg - live vs dead, then you don't need a huge sample of people.

"... Brodmann areas 4/6/10/21/40/44/45, precuneus, anterior cingulate, and insula/thalamus (p<0.001), as well as significant improvements in grey matter perfusion in the parietal (5.0±1.8 vs -2.9±2.4 %, p=0.013) and occipital (8.0±2.6 vs -0.7±3.2 %, p=0.031) lobes. There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory (two back test) after blueberry versus placebo supplementation (p=0.05). Supplementation with an anthocyanin rich blueberry concentrate improved brain perfusion and activation in brain areas associated with cognitive function in healthy older adults."
Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation

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