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

Motor learning for precise motor execution

September 26, 2018
Scientists at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, RIKEN, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Nozomi Hospital and Tokyo Medical and Dental University have identified acquisition of two types of internal ...

Diversity in the brain—how millions of neurons become unique

September 26, 2018
How is it possible that so many different and highly specific neuron types arise in the brain? A mathematical model developed by researchers from the University of Basel's Biozentrum demonstrates that different variants of ...

Sensitive babies become altruistic toddlers

September 25, 2018
Our responsiveness to seeing others in distress accounts for variability in helping behavior from early in development, according to a study published September 25 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Tobias Grossmann ...

Scientists reverse a sensory impairment in mice with autism

September 25, 2018
Using a genetic technique that allows certain neurons in the brain to be switched on or off, UCLA scientists reversed a sensory impairment in mice with symptoms of autism, enabling them to learn a sensory task as quickly ...

Immune cell pruning of dopamine receptors may modulate behavioral changes in adolescence

September 25, 2018
A study by MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) researchers finds that the immune cells of the brain called microglia play a crucial role in brain development during adolescence, but that role is different in males and ...

Why it doesn't get dark when you blink

September 25, 2018
People blink every five seconds. During this brief moment, no light falls on the retina, yet people continue to observe a stable picture of the environment with no intervals of darkness. Caspar Schwiedrzik and Sandrin Sudmann, ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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

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.