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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NEUROCOGNITION/NEUROSCIENCE

Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Title: Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults

Authors
item Krikorian, Robert -
item Shidler, Marcelle -
item Nash, Tiffany -
item Kalt, Wilhemina -
item Vinqvist-Tymchuk, Melinda -
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Joseph, James

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2009
Publication Date: April 14, 2010
Citation: Krikorian, R., Shidler, M., Nash, T., Kalt, W., Vinqvist-Tymchuk, M., Shukitt Hale, B., Joseph, J.A. 2010. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58:3996-4000.

Interpretive Summary: As the older adult population increases, so does the prevalence of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Without effective therapy, it is important to find ways to prevent this problem. Blueberries contain compounds that are known to affect brain cell degeneration through such mechanisms as anitoxidants, anti-inflammatory, and brain signaling. We investigated the effects of daily consumption of wild blueberry juice in a sample of older adults with early memory changes. At 12 weeks, we observed improved learning and memory, as well as fewer symptoms of depression and lower glucose levels. The findings suggest that moderate blueberry supplementation has positive effects on brain function. Larger, controlled trials are necessary to study the ways in which blueberry consumption affects age-related memory decline and dementia in humans.

Technical Abstract: The prevalence of dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s disease, is increasing with the expansion of the older adult population. In the absence of effective therapy, preventive approaches are essential to mitigate this public health problem. Blueberries contain polyphenolic compounds, most prominently anthocyanins, which have been associated with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuronal signaling effects as well as enhanced metabolic function, key factors in neurodegeneration. We investigated the effects of daily consumption of wild blueberry juice in a sample of older adults with early memory changes. At 12 weeks, we observed enhanced paired associate learning (p = .009) and improved word list recall (p = .04). In addition, there were trends suggesting reduced depressive symptoms (p = .08) and lower glucose levels (p = .10). The findings of this preliminary study suggest that moderate-term blueberry supplementation can induce cognitive benefits. Larger, controlled human trials are indicated to study the preventive potential and mechanisms of effect of blueberry consumption with respect to age-related memory decline and dementia.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014