Blueberries have long topped the list of healthy, antioxidant-rich foods, shown to fuel weight loss and provide myriad of other benefits. But now researchers at the University of Cincinnati are saying that healthy helpings of blueberries might also help to treat patients with cognitive impairment issues.
Supplementing a previous study that showed cognitive function improvement in animals that ate blueberries, the researchers conducted two separate studies: first, they looked at 47 people with mild cognitive impairments, age 68 and up. These participants were given a daily dose of blueberry powder or a placebo powder for 16 weeks.
After the 16 weeks, the group who consumed the blueberry powder saw an improvement in cognitive performance, brain function, and an increase in brain activity, as well as “improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” as explained by researcher Robert Krikorian in a press release.
For the second study, 94 individuals between the ages of 62 and 80, who felt their memory was declining, were given a blueberry powder along with fish oil. As in the previous study, some participants were given a placebo.
Ultimately, the researchers found that while the blueberry powder and fish oil showed improvement, the results were not as drastic as in the first study.
“Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory,” Krikorian says, noting the results were perhaps “not as robust as with the first study” because the participants’ cognitive issues were less severe.
Either way, the studies’ results show that blueberries can have a positive effect on memory and cognitive function in older adults. This is important, considering one in three seniors pass away from either Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While Alzheimer’s cannot technically be prevented, treated, or cured, a diet with superfoods like blueberries may help to lower the risk of dementia or keep it at bay longer.