Prescription For Memory: Blueberry Juice

According to a small study of 70-year olds who showed early signs of memory loss, the researchers suggest the findings establish a basis for comprehensive clinical trials to test whether blueberries really deserve their growing reputation as a memory enhancer.

The study performed at the University of Cincinnati and a report about it appears in the 4 January ASAP issue of the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The authors wrote there is an urgent need to develop preventive approaches to dementia which is on the rise as our population ages and there is no effective therapy for it.

Blueberries contain polyphenols, comprising mostly anthocyanins, which are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, combating oxidative stress, which contributes to some neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

A paper in a February 2008 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, that presented the findings of the 2007 International Berry Health Benefits Symposium, suggested that these compounds have beneficial effects on cancer, aging, neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections.

The researchers recruited people in their 70s showing early signs of memory changes, got them to complete memory and cognition tests, then asked them them to drink two to two and a half cups of commercially available blueberry juice a day.

Three months later, the volunteers underwent the same memory and cognition tests.  Compareing the before and after results, researchers found the volunteers who had drunk blueberry juice had improved paired associate learning and word list recall. The results also showed a trend toward reduced depressive symptoms and lower glucose levels.

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