Blueberry linked to improved brain function in older people

08 March 2017

Drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older people, new research claims.

Academics at the University of Exeter studied healthy people aged 65-77 who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day and discovered they demonstrate improved cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain during cognitive tests.

A further link to improved working memory was also found.

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

In response to the findings Dr. Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at Exeter, noted that despite human cognitive function often declining as we get older, the research builds upon the idea that brain health is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.

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

Out of the 26 participants in the experiment, 12 were given concentrated blueberry juice - providing the equivalent of 230g of blueberries - once a day, while 14 received a placebo.

Before and after the 12-week period, those involved took a series of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow was measured.

In comparison to the placebo group, people who drank the blueberry supplement showed considerable increases in brain activity in areas related to the tests.

The research excluded anyone who said they consumed more than five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and all participants were advised to follow a normal diet throughout.

The full study has been published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

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