Due to their high concentration of valuable compounds, blueberries have been considered a ‘superfood’ for some time. They are especially well regarded as source anthocyanins that protect blood vessels in the retina and keep the cardiovascular system strong. They may also be the next natural medicine to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
In this placebo-controlled clinical study, blueberry powder, equivalent to half a cup of blueberries, was consumed as a supplement daily for 12 weeks by individuals at risk of dementia aged 50 to 65 years old.
By the end of the study period, those in the blueberry group reported better word recall and memory in daily life tasks, improved executive function, and better accuracy during some of the cognitive tests. Blueberries also reduced fasting insulin levels, so it may be able to help individuals struggling with metabolic syndrome and mild cognitive impairments. Overall, these finding indicate that one of best preventive medicines may be found as close as the product section of the nearest grocery store.
Krikorian R, Skelton MR, Summer SS, Shidler MD, Sullivan PG. Blueberry Supplementation in Midlife for Dementia Risk Reduction. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 13;14(8):1619. doi: 10.3390/nu14081619. PMID: 35458181; PMCID: PMC9031005.
Late-life dementia typically develops over a period of many years beginning in midlife. Prevalence of metabolic disturbance also accelerates in middle age and is a prominent risk factor for dementia. Preliminary studies indicate that blueberry supplementation can improve cognitive performance and influence metabolism and brain function and therefore may have a role in early intervention to prevent neurodegeneration. In a randomized controlled trial, we investigated the effects of daily blueberry supplementation in a middle-aged sample of insulin-resistant participants with elevated risk for future dementia. We enrolled overweight men and women, aged 50 to 65 years, with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) and performed pre- and post-intervention assessments of cognition and metabolism and exploratory measures of peripheral mitochondrial function. We observed improved performances for the blueberry group on measures of lexical access, p = 0.003, and memory interference, p = 0.04, and blueberry-treated participants reported reduced memory encoding difficulty in daily life activities, p = 0.03. The blueberry-treated group also exhibited correction of peripheral hyperinsulinemia, p = 0.04, and a modest trend for increased mitochondrial uncoupling, p = 0.11. The cognitive findings indicated improved executive ability in this middle-aged sample. In addition, the changes in metabolic and bioenergetic measures imply potential mechanistic factors associated with anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin actions. The demonstration of these benefits in middle-aged individuals with insulin resistance and SCD suggests that ongoing blueberry supplementation may contribute to protection against cognitive decline when implemented early in at-risk individuals.