Eating wild blueberries every day may reverse cognitive decline in elderly people, a new study highlights potential discoveries of the superfood.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that elderly Americans who already suffered from cognitive issues could benefit greatly from eating fruit every day. In many cases, their brain health reached the same level as those who had no known history of cognitive decline.
There is currently no known cure for conditions such as dementia. Reliable treatments have also not been found to slow its progression. The findings of this study are potentially important, showing that a simple fruit could potentially do what a drug developed after decades of medical research could not.
Blueberries have long been touted as a ‘superfood’, with its antioxidant properties and a multitude of other vitamins and minerals linked to brain health and a reduction in the risk of heart disease and cancer, among other health benefits.
A new study finds that eating wild blueberries every day can reverse cognitive decline and promote overall brain health.
The researchers, who published their findings earlier this month nutritional neurosciencecollected data from 86 elderly adults between the ages of 65 and 80.
The group self-reported all cognitive issues. Another 43 people of the same age group without neurological problems were recruited to serve as a control group.
After preliminary screening to determine cognitive functioning at the start of the study, participants were divided into two groups – one added wild blueberry powder to their diet and the other a placebo.
Carol Chetham, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UNC who led the research, explained to DailyMail.com that the study used wild blueberries exclusively from Maine.
The phytochemicals in the berries have developed defenses against skin cancer, pests and other elements in the harsh northeastern environment.
As a result, these phytochemicals are rich in chemicals that are great for a person’s cognitive health.
“Phytochemicals in plants are compounds that evolved to protect the plant from environmental stressors, fungi, bacteria and viruses,” said paper author Dr. Mary Ann Leila from North Carolina State University in a statement.
Study lead author Dr Carol Cheetham (pictured) said she added two cups of blueberries to her diet every day to boost her brain health.
‘Once consumed by humans, they transfer these health benefits to us. The research study conducted here at NRI suggests that phytochemicals specific to wild blueberries are important for brain health.’
Participants added the powder to their meals each day. Six months later, they were once again screened for cognitive health.
Researchers found that people who consumed blueberries every day had a significantly improved mental processing speed after menstruation.
This was reinstated to the point that on average they had similar processing speeds to the control group, who reported no cognitive decline.
Processing speed is the capacity the brain can store and then recall information. Researchers say it is important for all brain function – and its improvement shows an overall jump in brain health.
While the study was relatively small, Cheetham hopes his team has found a natural solution to the cognitive issues affecting millions of Americans.
These wild blueberries are available in the frozen fruit section of many grocery stores around America.
However, if a person can’t find them, she recommends any other blue-coloured fruit, such as blueberries, purple grapes or blackberries, to get a little boost in cognitive health.
Cheetham said she personally adds blueberries to her daily diet, adding about two cups each morning to a smoothie.
An average person hoping to keep their brain in top shape is recommended to add berries to their diet daily, if possible, and even far less than the daily intake of chitham. may also be effective.
“There are no side effects from eating wild blueberries,” she said.