Concentrated blueberry juice improves cognitive function in older people, new research finds.
Those who drank the juice also had better blood flow and activation in their brains as well as improvements to working memory.
The boost to brain power is likely down to the flavonoids in blueberries.
Flavonoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Dr Joanna Bowtell, the study’s first author, said:
“Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults 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 blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.”
For the research, 12 people were given the equivalent of 230g of blueberries in a concentrated juice each day for 12 weeks.
The remaining 14 were given a placebo.
After 12 weeks, all were tested for brain function and cognitive abilities.
The study’s authors conclude:
“…blueberry concentrate consumed once per day (30 ml, providing 387 mg anthocyanins) for 12 weeks increased activation of brain areas associated with cognitive processes including memory and executive function, which tend to deteriorate with age.”
Antioxidants are key to the beneficial effect of blueberries.
A previous study also found blueberries stave off brain ageing, as do walnuts and strawberries.
The results for memory in this study were marginal.
However, previous research has found that blueberries can improve memory and cognitive function.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (Bowtell et al., 2017).