50+ health * Healthy living * Mental wellbeing

Blueberries can "reverse memory decline"

blueberries can fight memory loss Improvements seen after just 3 weeks of new diet

Blueberries have a reputation as a "superfood". Now new research has shown that a blueberry rich diet can reverse the effects of age-related memory loss.

In the study a group of rats were fed the equivalent of a punnet of blueberries each day. They were then set a memory related task - searching through a maze with food at the end. Within three weeks of starting the diet older rats were found to perform as well as younger ones, showing the effects of the diet on memory.

The active ingredients identified in the blueberries are flavonoids. These have been identified in the past as key antioxidant ingredients which may provide protection against cancer related disease and other illnesses.

But this new study shows that they may also be able to interact with memory cells - perhaps by improving the electrical communications between them, which would help to explain the observed effect on memory improvement.

Leader of the study, Dr Jeremy Spencer of the University of Reading, said: "Impaired or failing memory as we get older is one of life's major inconveniences. Scientists have known of the potential health benefits of diets rich in fresh fruits for a long time. Our previous work had suggested that flavonoid compounds had some kind of effect on memory, but until now we had not known the potential mechanisms to account for this."

"Our research provides scientific evidence to show that blueberries are good for you. It also supports the idea that a diet-based approach could potentially be used to increase memory capacity and performance in the future. We will be taking these findings to the next level by investigating the effects of diets rich in flavonoids on individuals suffering from cognitive impairment and possibly Alzheimer's disease."

This article was published on Fri 11 September 2009

Image © fotoryba - Fotolia.com

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