Scientists from the University of Cincinnati found that regular blueberry consumption may reduce risk of dementia.
They found that adding blueberries to the daily diets of certain middle-aged populations may lower the chances of developing late-life dementia.
The research is published in the journal Nutrients and was conducted by Robert Krikorian et al.
While not entirely different from other berries and plants like red cabbage, blueberries have a particularly high level of micronutrients and antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins help give blueberries their namesake color and also help defend the plants against excess radiation exposure, infectious agents and other threats.
These same properties that help blueberries survive also provide benefits to humans, such as reducing inflammation, improving metabolic function and enhancing energy production within cells.
In the study, the team examined middle-aged individuals in order to focus on dementia prevention and risk reduction.
About 50% of individuals in the U.S. develop insulin resistance, commonly referred to as prediabetes, around middle age. Prediabetes has been shown to be a factor in chronic diseases.
The researchers enrolled 33 patients from around the Cincinnati area between the ages of 50-65 who were overweight, prediabetic and had noticed mild memory decline with aging.
This population has an increased risk for late-life dementia and other common conditions.
Over a period of 12 weeks, the patients were asked to abstain from berry fruit consumption of any kind except for a daily packet of supplement powder to be mixed with water and consumed either with breakfast or dinner.
Half of the participants received powders that contained the equivalent of one-half cup of whole blueberries, while the other half received a placebo.
Participants were also given tests that measured certain cognitive abilities that decline in patients with aging and late-life dementia.
The team found those in the blueberry-treated group showed improvement on cognitive tasks that depend on executive control.
Patients in the blueberry group also had lower fasting insulin levels, meaning they had improved metabolic function and were able to more easily burn fat for energy.
The team says the blueberry group displayed an additional mild degree of higher mitochondrial uncoupling, a cellular process that has been associated with greater longevity and reduced oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress can lead to symptoms like fatigue and memory loss.
Future work will help understand the exact mechanisms of blueberries that help to improve cognitive performance and metabolic function.
The main takeaway from the current study is that regular blueberry supplementation in at-risk middle-aged diets may lower the chances of developing late-life dementia.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about metal that may reduce risk of dementia, and cataract removal may reduce the dementia risk by 30%.
For more information about dementia, please see recent studies about factors that could help people get away from dementia, and results showing high blood pressure may lower dementia risk for some old adults.
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