Does Eating Blueberries Help Lower Dementia Risk? (Plus, One Unique Way to Enjoy Them!)
While blueberries are available in produce and freezer aisles year round, summer is the best time to enjoy them. Right now, they’re at their freshness peak. Plus, new research shows that regularly eating these sweet but tart treats can help lower dementia risk over time!
A recent study published in the journal Nutrients looked at the positive effects of blueberry consumption on brain health for older adults. The study included 33 adults (ages 50 to 65) who were overweight, prediabetic, and had experienced mild age-related memory decline.
Participants were asked to avoid eating berries of any kind for 12 weeks. Instead, they were given daily packets of either a blueberry or a placebo supplement powder to mix with water and consume with breakfast or dinner. Half of the study’s participants received the blueberry supplement powder, which contained the equivalent of 1/2 cup of whole blueberries.
Before and after the study period, participants took assessments to test their cognitive abilities. Researchers ultimately found that those in the blueberry group showed greater improvements in memory-related tasks than the placebo group.
Lead author Robert Krikorian, PhD, notes in a statement that blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins. These compounds give the berries their naturally blue color and help reduce inflammation in areas of the body like the brain, which is key for preventing dementia and cognitive decline.
“The sample size is an obvious limitation of the study, so it will be important to reproduce these findings, especially by other investigators,” Krikorian adds. “In the meantime, it might be a good idea to consume blueberries on a regular basis.”
How to Enjoy Blueberries at Their Peak
Blueberries can be enjoyed in a fruit salad, morning oatmeal, or a smoothie. You also can try this unique recipe for yogurt-covered blueberries by recipe developer Rachel Mansfield, for the ultimate refreshing and healthy summer snack.
As an added bonus, previous research suggests that eating blueberries with dairy products such as yogurt helps your body absorb the fruit’s nutrients even more!
- 1 cup fresh whole blueberries
- 1/2 cup your favorite yogurt (flavored or unflavored)
- Rinse the blueberries and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Place blueberries in a bowl, add the yogurt, and gently mix until the blueberries are fully coated.
- Pour the yogurt-covered blueberries over a small parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight, until the yogurt is solid on the fruit.
- Allow the berries to thaw slightly for about 10 minutes and enjoy! (Note: Frozen blueberries last up to 10 months in the freezer when stored in a tightly sealed plastic bag.)
Blueberries are my favorite fruit, so these findings give me yet another reason to bask in this fruit’s season (which runs from April to late September). The brain health benefits that come from enjoying these berries makes them impossible to turn down!