Blueberries have a well-deserved reputation for making pancakes, muffins, and smoothies better, and now, research suggests they could help make your brain better, too. The double-blind study was published in European Journal of Nutrition and included 13 men and 24 women, age 60 to 75. The participants were randomly assigned to receive 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (equivalent to 1 cup of fresh blueberries) or placebo blueberry powder every day for 90 days. At the beginning, middle, and end of the study, participants underwent a series of balance, gait, and cognitive tests from which researchers concluded:
Participants receiving freeze-dried blueberries had significantly fewer repetition errors on the California Verbal Learning test (an assessment of verbal learning and memory) relative to those receiving the placebo.
Participants receiving freeze-dried blueberries performed better on a task-switching test relative to those receiving the placebo.
There were no differences between the two groups in performance on tests of balance and gait.
Why are blueberries a boon for your brain? The flavonoids in blueberries may hold the answer. Flavonoids are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and previous research has associated high flavonoid intake with a decreased risk of age-related cognitive decline. In addition, dietary flavonoids have been associated with reduced weight gain, lower diabetes risk, and increased longevity. So, while the blueberry–brain connection is still being illuminated, there’s no reason you shouldn’t top yogurt with blueberries for breakfast, or toss them in a salad for dinner, to bump up your flavonoid intake.
Source: European Journal of Nutrition