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Could Blueberries Ward off Alzheimer’s?

The humble blueberry has already been credited with having the potential to lower the risk of both heart disease and cancer, but now it seems that it could also have beneficial effects for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently the subject of many tests, blueberries have been labelled as a ‘super fruit’ as they’re packed full of antioxidants which are believed to have the ability to prevent the devastating effects associated with this common form of dementia.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center have recently presented their findings at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which is currently the largest scientific society in the world, stating that their new findings corroborate those of previous studies with both animals and humans. They also add credence to the suggestion that these berries can offer a real benefit for improving memory and cognitive function in some older people, due to the effects of the flavoinoids contained within.
As Alzheimer’s becomes increasingly common, scientists have upped their attempts to find ways to slow down this trend. Lead author of this study Robert Krikorian and his team conducted two studies with humans in order to follow up on previous clinical trials. One of these studies involved 47 participants aged 68 and over, who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. Each participant was given either a daily dose of freeze-dried blueberry powder, or a placebo powder for a period of 16 weeks.
The researchers found an improvement in the cognitive performance and brain function in the participants who had taken the freeze-dried blueberries, in comparison to those who were given the placebo. All participants underwent fMRI scans, which showed an increase of brain activity in those people who had taken the blueberry powder.
During the second study, 94 participants aged between 62 and 80, were given either blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder or a placebo, depending on which group they’d been assigned to. None of the participants had been diagnosed with cognitive issues, although they themselves felt that their memories were getting worse. While the results were not as conclusive as the first study, the researchers did find that cognition appeared better for those people who took the powder or the fish oil separately, although there was no apparent improvement in their memories. The fMRI scans were also inconclusive.
The scientists believe that this suggests that blueberries may have a bigger effect if the patients already have a cognitive impairment, but have less of a measurable effect if the participants have not yet developed problems with cognition.

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