Blueberries already have a reputation for being nutrition powerhouses. Now, results from a new study add a little more luster to their superstar status — they can improve brain function in the elderly.
Researchers at the University of Exeter in the U.K. found the consumption of blueberry juice improved brain blood flow, cognitive function and activation of the brain during cognitive tests. The evidence also suggested it increased working memory.
Twenty-six healthy people between the ages of 65 and 77 were the participants. Half were daily given 30 milliliters of concentrated blueberry juice, which is equivalent to 230 grams of blueberries. (An average cup of blueberries contains 148 grams.) The other half received a placebo.
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Cognitive tests performed on the individuals were conducted before and after the 12-week intervention. In addition, an MRI was used to monitor brain function and assess resting blood flow. Compared to those who took the placebo, the group who took the blueberry juice showed significant activity increases in brain areas related to the tests.
To determine more accurately the effect of blueberries alone on diet, individuals who said they ate more than five portions of fruits and vegetables per day were excluded. Participants were asked to stay on their normal diet during the intervention period. The study was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism.
Earlier research shows a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of dementia. It also indicates a diet rich in plant foods is associated with increased preservation of brain function. Moreover, a study last year found eating blueberries in middle age could reduce the likelihood of developing dementia decades later.
Why do blueberries appear to be especially beneficial? It could be due to their rich content of flavonoids, plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
To include blueberries in the diet, add them to yogurt or a salad, or just grab a handful as a snack. However, for a special treat that will give you a wonderfully pampered feeling, try this smoothie recipe. Holly Clegg, bestselling healthy cookbook author of Trim & Terrific and the Eating Well Series shares it with Live in the Now.
Refreshing, soothing, and delicious.
Makes 1 1/2 cups (2 (3/4 cup) servings) approximately 30 oz.
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen or puree
- 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup whole milk vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup baby spinach
- Raw honey or maple syrup (optional)
In food processor or blender, combine all ingredients until well blended. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories 115, Calories from Fat 24 %, Total Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 8 mg, Sodium 31 mg, Total Carbohydrate 22 g, Dietary Fiber 3 g, Sugars 16 g, Protein 4 g, Diabetic Exchanges:1 1/2 Carbohydrate, 1/2 fat
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.