Participating were 30 subjects between 50 and 65 years old at increased risk of dementia. Researchers did cognitive testing on the subjects and divided them into two groups.
- One group ate a packet of powdered blueberries every day. This was equivalent to a half cup of fresh blueberries every day.
- The second group got a placebo powder with the same color and flavor but no nutritional value.
After 12 weeks, repeat cognitive testing showed the blueberry powder group performed better than the placebo group.
Let’s look at the results of the study and why you may want to eat blueberries to preserve brain health
The main conclusions:
- eating blueberries gives neurocognitive benefits in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and elevated risk for dementia. Ongoing intake can help mitigate deficiencies and protect against neurocognitive decline.
- possible benefits for hyperinsulinemia and mitochondrial function. These are key to neurodegeneration.
Study funding came from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. So you might be wondering if there was bias? Good news: researchers had no connection to or financial interest in the blueberry industry. The Blueberry Council “had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.” Also, this study passed a peer review process.
Is it the blueberries or is it the anthocyanins?
The study notes the anthocyanin content of the blueberries as the likely cause of the brain benefits. Besides blueberries, anthocyanins are found in other berries, red cabbage, plums, onions, black and red rice, eggplant, grapes, and red wine. And these are linked to a wide range of health benefits from improved lung and brain function to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
The take-away: try eating 1/2-1 cup of fresh blueberries daily. With 80 calories per cup, blueberries are packed with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants.
Here’s one of my favorite blueberry recipes:
Sarah’s Blueberry Chia Pudding
- Blend 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries with 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk.
- Pour blueberry milk into a mason jar or bowl.
- Next, stir in 3 Tablespoons of chia seeds until they are evenly distributed.
- Then, cover and let the mixture set for at least one hour or overnight.
- Finally, top with fresh berries, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes as desired.
Want to dig deeper? Blueberries have other health benefits:
This study shows that the anthocyanins equivalent to what is present in to 1- to 2-cups of blueberries per day can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol (click here).