A Good Kind of ‘Blue’ — How Blueberries Fight Alzheimer’s and Improve Memory

Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia in the United States, is actually the sixth leading cause of death.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50% of the residents of nursing homes in the US have Alzheimer’s; unfortunately, nearly all of the treatments available can only slow the deterioration at best.

So what can you do to prevent this devastating disease from affecting you or your loved ones?

Some promising research has pointed to diet as a cornerstone of prevention of dementia. A 2010 study showed that daily consumption of wild blueberry juice improved memory and learning in older adults over a twelve week period. Other studies using mice and rats have shown similar improvements in mental ability and motor control when blueberry extract was used as a supplement.

Although researchers are not 100% positive what the magic ingredient is for fending off mental decline, they hypothesize that it has to do with the powerful dose of antioxidants in blueberries.

Antioxidants help repair tissues, cells, and DNA which have been damaged by free radicals. We are exposed to free radicals daily, from the sun, environmental chemicals, and even some of the food we eat. We can’t escape free radicals, our body produces them even as a byproduct of digesting food, or from exercising.

However, as long as our diets are high in antioxidants, we can keep free radical production in check. Blueberries, in particular, contain high amounts of anthocyanin, the antioxidant which gives them their bright blue/purple hue. Anthocyanins are also present in other berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries), eggplant, and black beans.

Try incorporating a half cup of blueberries into your diet on most days. Though most of the studies cited above used blueberry juice or an extract, it is likely that fresh blueberries contain significant amounts of anthocyanins as well.

The best way to treat Alzheimer’s is to prevent it from ever happening. This blueberry is not only delicious, by may actually be life-saving.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850944/

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/alzheimers.htm

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/29/41/12795.long

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/1/313S.full