Supporting cognition: Blueberries may promote neuronal activation to help ward off dementia

636827233994553478fruit blueberry.jpg

10 Jan 2019 --- Blueberry supplementation may benefit older adults at increased risk of dementia, according to new research. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers detected altered neuronal activation following blueberry supplementation in older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The results suggest that anthocyanin-rich berries may hold promise in supporting cognitive functions.

The participants were aged 68 and over and randomized to take freeze-dried, whole fruit blueberry powder or a placebo powder every day for 16 weeks. The daily dose was the equivalent of one cup of whole blueberry fruit. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was performed at baseline and the end of the study, while participants took a working memory challenge to determine any alterations in brain functions. 

After 16 weeks, participants in the blueberry group demonstrated significantly increased blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals in two areas of the brain during the working memory challenge. The changes in BOLD signals were of a large magnitude, suggesting that blueberry powder modulated neuronal signaling and improved neurovascular function.

The changes were not accompanied by significant improvements in working memory task performance. The authors propose that this might be due to the small sample size, as only a total of 17 participants completed the study. 

Click to EnlargeThe blueberry powder, sponsored by the US Highbush Blueberry Council, was a mixture of 50 percent Vaccinium ashei Reade (Tifblue) and 50 percent V. corymbosum L (Rubel) blueberries.

This clinical trial was the first to detect altered neuronal activation after blueberry supplementation in older adults with MCI. Numerous studies support that anthocyanins are beneficial to health, however. 

Concord grape juice, high-flavanol cocoa supplementation and Montmorency cherries are all touted as holding health properties. Previous studies on Montmorency tart cherries have ranged from heart health and exercise recovery to sleep to potential gut health benefits.

Anthocyanins are red-pigmented flavonoids that give certain fruit and vegetables their rich red, purple and blue colors. They are found in berries, black soybean, black rice and cherries.

Additionally, anthocyanins may increase the function of the sirtuin 6 enzyme in cancer cells, according to a study from the University of Eastern Finland. The regulation of this enzyme could open up new avenues for cancer treatment. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

To contact our editorial team please email us at

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

A green diet revolution? Calls for radical diet and food production intervention to improve health and the planet

17 Jan 2019 --- Feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 with a healthy and environmentally friendly diet will be impossible without dramatically transforming the global population’s eating habits, improving food production and reducing food waste. This is according to a Lancet commission of prominent academics that has put forward a planetary health diet.

Health & Nutrition News

Claiming concentration? Red Bull cautioned by UK advertising watchdog for “misleading” health claim

17 Jan 2019 --- UK advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has banned a poster for the energy drink Red Bull for reportedly implying that Red Bull has a beneficial impact on health, in particular, focus and concentration. Suggesting a product aids focus and concentration is a health claim, and therefore must comply with the claims authorized on the EU register. This is According to Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. Health claims are defined as those that state, suggest or imply a relationship between a food, or ingredient and health.

Health & Nutrition News

Fast-tracking growth: Mérieux Equity Partners acquires majority stake of Nutragroup

16 Jan 2019 --- Mérieux Equity Partners has acquired a majority stake in Nutragroup, the holding company of Omnipharm and B-Pharma labs. The acquisition was possible through the company’s third generation fund, Mérieux Participations 3, which is dedicated to fast-growing companies in the health and nutrition sectors. Nutragroup founder Mehdi Boulahia is to maintain a significant equity interest in the business.

Health & Nutrition News

Preventative healthcare buzz: Nuritas and Pharmavite partner on bioactive peptides in supplements

16 Jan 2019 --- Irish biotech company Nuritas and supplement manufacturer Pharmavite have partnered in a bid to “transform” the dietary supplements industry. The partnership will combine Nuritas’ artificial intelligence (AI) technology with Pharmavite’s experience across multiple dosage forms. The news is the latest in a string of high profile partnerships for Nuritas, including BASF and Nestlé, and an indicator of Nuritas’ consumer strategy.  

Health & Nutrition News

Has the haze lifted? As cannabis-derivatives get the green light, NPD expansion is set to grow

15 Jan 2019 --- Cannabis-derivatives, such as hemp and cannabidiol (CBD), have been increasingly cropping up on ingredients lists in the US and elsewhere. A recent ruling, which came as the US Government launched its farm bill in December 2018, alleviates hemp of its illegal status, which is expected to spur further innovation. Part one of this NutritionInsight two-part report into cannabis-derived products in the nutrition and food industry explored the softening regulatory environment. Part two considers how the industry may respond to the opportunities that such regulation shifts may bring to the US and Canada, for example.

More Articles