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

Related Stories

Orange juice could help improve brain function in elderly people

May 18, 2015
Drinking orange juice could help improve brain function in elderly people, according to new research from the University of Reading.

Wild blueberries could boost primary schoolchildren's memory and concentration

October 8, 2015
Consuming wild blueberries may have a significant effect on the cognitive ability of primary schoolchildren, new University of Reading research has found.

Blueberries, the well-known 'super fruit,' could help fight Alzheimer's

March 13, 2016
The blueberry, already labeled a 'super fruit' for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer's disease. New research being presented today ...

Healthy living linked to higher brain function, delay of dementia

November 1, 2016
It's tempting to dip into the leftover Halloween treats, but new research out of York University has found eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, combined with regular exercise, leads to better cognitive functioning for ...

Older, fitter adults experience greater brain activity while learning

January 13, 2017
Older adults who experience good cardiac fitness may be also keeping their brains in good shape as well.

Recommended for you

How do we lose memory? A STEP at a time, researchers say

March 23, 2018
In mice, rats, monkeys, and people, aging can take its toll on cognitive function. A new study by researchers at Yale and Université de Montréal reveal there is a common denominator to the decline in all of these species—an ...

Brain's tiniest blood vessels trigger spinal motor neurons to develop

March 23, 2018
A new study has revealed that the human brain's tiniest blood vessels can activate genes known to trigger spinal motor neurons, prompting the neurons to grow during early development. The findings could provide insights into ...

Being hungry shuts off perception of chronic pain

March 22, 2018
Pain can be valuable. Without it, we might let our hand linger on a hot stove, for example. But longer-lasting pain, such as the inflammatory pain that can arise after injury, can be debilitating and costly, preventing us ...

From signal propagation to consciousness: New findings point to a potential connection

March 22, 2018
Researchers at New York University have discovered a novel mechanism through which information can be effectively transmitted across many areas in the brain—a finding that offers a potentially new way of understanding how ...

Using simplicity for complexity—new research sheds light on the perception of motion

March 22, 2018
A team of biologists has deciphered how neurons used in the perception of motion form in the brain of a fly —a finding that illustrates how complex neuronal circuits are constructed from simple developmental rules.

Focus on early stage of illness may be key to treating ALS, study suggests

March 22, 2018
A new kind of genetically engineered mouse and an innovation in how to monitor those mice during research have shed new light on the early development of an inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 07, 2017
The experimental group n=12 – and this is supposed to be valid? What a waste of digital ink.
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..
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.
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

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.