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Eating wild blueberries each day can reverse cognitive decline in elderly people, study finds 

Eating wild blueberries every day can reverse cognitive decline in older people, a new study highlights the potential findings of the often-dubbed superfood.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that older Americans who already suffered from demonstrable cognitive problems could greatly benefit from eating the fruit every day. In many cases, their brain health reached the same levels of people with no known history of cognitive decline.

There are currently no known cures for conditions such as dementia. Reliable treatments to slow its progression have also not been discovered. The results of this study are potentially groundbreaking, showing that a simple fruit can potentially do what drugs developed after decades of medical research could not.

Blueberries have long been known as a ‘superfood’ with its antioxidant properties and many other vitamins and minerals linked to brain health and reducing heart disease and cancer risk, among other health benefits.

Eating wild blueberries every day can reverse cognitive decline and boost overall brain health, a new study suggests
Eating wild blueberries every day can reverse cognitive decline and boost overall brain health, a new study suggests

Eating wild blueberries every day can reverse cognitive decline and boost overall brain health, a new study suggests

Researchers who published their findings earlier this month in Nutritional Neurosciencecollected data from 86 older adults between the ages of 65 and 80.

The group all have self-reported cognitive problems. Another 43 people in the same age group with no reported brain problems were recruited to act as a control group.

After an initial screening to determine cognitive function at the start of the study, the participants were divided into two groups – one added wild blueberry powder to their diet, and the other a placebo.

Dr. Carol Cheatham, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UNC who led the research, explained to DailyMail.com that this study specifically used wild blueberries from Maine.

Phytochemicals in the berries have developed defenses against skin cancer, pests and other elements of the harsh northeastern environment.

As a result, these phytochemicals are rich in chemicals that are good for a person’s cognitive health.

“Phytochemicals are compounds in plants that evolve to defend the plant against environmental stress, fungi, bacteria and viruses,” said Dr. Mary Ann Lila, an author of the paper from North Carolina State University in a statement.

Dr.  Carol Cheatham (pictured), lead author of the study, said she mixes two cups of blueberries into her diet every day to boost her brain health
Dr.  Carol Cheatham (pictured), lead author of the study, said she mixes two cups of blueberries into her diet every day to boost her brain health

Dr. Carol Cheatham (pictured), lead author of the study, said she mixes two cups of blueberries into her diet every day to boost her brain health

‘Once ingested by humans, they transfer these health benefits to us. The research study carried out here at NRI shows that the phytochemicals specific to wild blueberries are important for brain health.’

The participants mixed the powder into their food every day. Six months later, they were screened again for cognitive health.

Researchers found that those who ate the blueberries every day had their mental processing speed greatly restored after the period.

It recovered to the point that they averaged the same processing speed as the control group who reported no cognitive decline.

Processing speed is the ability of the brain to store and then recall information. The researchers fail to note that it is key to all brain function – and its improvement shows an overall jump in brain health.

While the study was relatively small, Cheatham hopes her team has found a natural solution to the cognitive problems that affect millions of Americans.

These wild blueberries are available in the frozen fruit section of many grocery stores around America.

If a person can’t find them, however, she recommends any blue-colored fruit, like other blueberries, purple grapes or blackberries, for a minor boost in cognitive health.

Cheatham said she personally incorporates blueberries into her daily diet, blending about two cups of them into a smoothie every morning.

The average person hoping to keep their brain in top shape is advised to mix the berries into their diet daily if possible, and even much smaller amounts of Cheatham’s daily intake can be effective.

“Eating wild blueberries has no side effects,” she said.

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