Eating wild blueberries every day could reverse cognitive decline in the elderly, a new study highlights the potential finds of the oft-dubbed superfood.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that older Americans who already suffered from demonstrable cognitive problems could benefit greatly from eating the fruit daily. In many cases, their brain health reached the same level as in people with no known history of cognitive decline.
There are currently no known treatments for conditions such as dementia. Reliable treatments to slow progression have also not been discovered. The findings of this study are potentially groundbreaking, showing that a simple fruit could potentially do what drugs developed after decades of medical research couldn’t.
Blueberries have long been known as a “superfood,” with its antioxidant properties and a host of other vitamins and minerals linked to brain health and reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, among other health benefits.
Eating wild blueberries every day may reverse cognitive decline and improve overall brain health, new study finds
Researchers, who published their findings in Nutritional Neuroscience earlier this month, collected data from 86 older adults between the ages of 65 and 80.
The group all reported cognitive problems themselves. Another 43 people in the same age range with no reported brain problems were recruited to serve as controls.
After an initial 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 was a placebo.
dr. Carol Cheatham, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UNC who led the study, explained to DailyMail.com that the study specifically used wild Maine blueberries.
Phytochemicals in the berries have evolved a defense against skin cancer, pests and other elements in the harsh northeastern environment.
As a result, these phytochemicals are rich in chemicals that are good for one’s cognitive health.
“Phytochemicals are compounds in plants that develop to protect the plant from environmental stress, fungi, bacteria and viruses,” said Dr. Mary Ann Lila, an author of the paper from North Carolina State University in a statement.
dr. Carol Cheatham (pictured), lead author of the study, said she mixes two cups of blueberries into her diet every day to improve her brain health
“Once consumed by humans, they transfer these health benefits to us. The research here at the NRA shows that the phytochemicals specific to the wild blueberry are important for brain health.’
Participants mixed the powder with their food every day. Six months later, they were screened again for cognitive health.
Researchers found that those who consumed the blueberries every day greatly recovered their mental processing speed after the period.
It was restored to the point that they had, on average, the same processing speed as the control group who reported no cognitive decline.
Processing speed is the ability that the brain can store and then recall information. The researchers aren’t saying it’s the key to all brain functions — and its improvement shows an overall jump in brain health.
Although the study was relatively small, Cheatham is hopeful that her team has found a natural solution to the cognitive problems facing millions of Americans.
These wild blueberries are available in the frozen section of many supermarkets in America.
However, if a person can’t find them, she recommends blue-colored fruits, such as other blueberries, purple grapes, or blackberries, to get a smaller boost in cognitive health.
Cheatham said she has personally mixed blueberries into her daily diet, mixing about two cups into a smoothie every morning.
An average person hoping to keep their brain in tip-top shape is advised to mix the berries into their diet daily if possible, and even amounts much smaller than the daily intake of Cheatham can be effective.
“Eating wild blueberries has no side effects,” she said.
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