The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer's disease. It causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior that get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
According to a new research that is being presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the blueberry could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer's disease. It must be noted that blueberry has already been labeled as a 'super fruit' for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
In the research, scientists revealed that this fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia.
Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., leader of the research team, said, "Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults."
He added that blueberries' beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve animals' cognition.
Krikorian and colleagues at University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center carried out two human studies to follow up on earlier clinical trials.
The first study involved 47 adults aged 68 and older, who had mild cognitive impairment, a risk condition for Alzheimer's disease. The researchers gave them either freeze-dried blueberry powder, which is equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.
"There was improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo. The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts," Krikorian says.
On the other hand, the second study included 94 people aged 62 to 80, who were divided into four groups.
- While the first group was given blueberry powder
- The second got fish oil
- The third one was given fish oil as well as powder
- And the last received placebo
Krikorian explained, "The results were not as robust as with the first study. Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory." Also, fMRI results also were not as striking for those who received blueberry powder.
According to him, the two studies indicate that blueberries may be more effective in treating patients with cognitive impairments, but may not show measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or who have not yet developed cognitive problems.
In the future, this study could help the researchers determine if blueberries could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.