You may want to encourage your child to eat more blueberries. A new study finds that children who eat blueberries react faster by about 10 percent.
The researchers from the University of Reading in England focused on the relationship between blueberries and its effects on the brain. They examined 21 primary school children whose ages ranged from 7-10 years old for about three weeks.
To start the study, the researchers gave the subjects a drink containing either a high dose of wild blueberry (about 30 g or equal to about 1.75 cups), a low dose (about 15 g or about 3/4 cup), or a placebo. Prior to that, they tested the cognitive ability of the participants through a series of tests examining their memory and attention. The tests involved watching a range of arrows on a screen and pressing a key corresponding to the direction of the central arrow. The tests became harder as the speed of the arrows changed, where the additional arrows appeared, and whether the flanking arrows pointed in the same or different direction as the central arrow.
The study reveals that consuming wild blueberries enhances the reaction time of children by nine percent without compromising accuracy. The effect became more evident as the tests got more difficult.
Claire Williams, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Reading, explained that they used blueberries because they are rich in flavonoids. These compounds have been known to improve the brain functions of adults. This fully controlled, double-blinded study is the first to evaluate the effects of flavonoids on the cognitive ability in children, according to Williams. (Related: Blueberries and grape seed extract shown to rejuvenate the aging brain.)
“They have been associated with a range of health benefits including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and our latest findings continue to show that there is a beneficial cognitive effect of consuming fruit and vegetables, tea, coffee, and even dark chocolate which all contain flavonoids,” she said.
Moreover, Williams said in a press release that primary school is an essential stage in the education and social development of a child. She said that the results strongly reveal that the consumption of foods rich in flavonoids, such as wild blueberries, could help total learning in the classroom.
Fast facts on wild blueberries
Wild blueberries are one of the oldest native berries in North America. These berries have been growing under the harsh conditions of Northern New England, Eastern Canada, and Quebec for more than 10,000 years. They survived the harsh environments because they contain high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is a phytochemical found in fruits that are usually blue in color. Listed below are some of the health benefits of wild blueberries:
- Supports brain health – Studies show that blueberries may improve motor skills, reverse short-term memory loss, protect against Alzheimer’s disease and memory decline, hinder the loss of cognitive function, and reduce depression in old people.
- Stops cancer growth – A study suggested that blueberries can possibly stop the growth of Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), a form of breast cancer that is specifically aggressive and difficult to treat.
- Improves heart health – Wild blueberries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which may help in protecting the heart. Studies show that the berries decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent stroke, and lessen oxidative stress.
- Reduces risk of diabetes – Eating blueberries every day aided in reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes, according to a study.
- Enhances gut health – An animal study found that wild blueberries support digestive health by increasing beneficial gut bacteria.
- Inhibits metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity, and impaired glucose tolerance which may result to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A study showed that phytochemicals in blueberries helped reduce hyperglycemia, a condition linked with metabolic syndrome.
Learn more about the health benefits of eating blueberries at Blueberries.news.