(Natural News) In the U.S., more than five million people suffer from Alzheimer’s, a progressive form of dementia. And as the population ages, this number is expected to rise even more. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this number could reach up to 15 million by 2050. This disease commonly affects people over the age of 65, causing them to have impaired memory and cognitive function. It usually starts with the patient being forgetful and confused but over time, this continues to progress as brain damage also becomes more severe.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., with one out of three elderly persons dying due to its complications. Some examples of these complications include the following:
- Agitation and anxiousness
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Poor balance and coordination
- Sleeping problems
Many people are scared of developing Alzheimer’s not just because of its possible complications, but also because of the high cost associated with this disease. Each year, Alzheimer’s costs the nation approximately $326 million while caregivers spend more than $5,000 in caring for loved ones with this disease. Fortunately, scientists have found a way to prevent Alzheimer’s naturally through food, such as blueberries.
How do blueberries help with dementia?
Blueberries are proof that good things do come in small packages. Not only are they delicious, they are also packed with nutrients that are great for your health. This superfood is famous for its ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. But aside from these, blueberries have also been shown to be beneficial against Alzheimer’s.
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Studies by researchers from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, led by Dr. Robert Krikorian, found that the anthocyanins found in blueberries could be responsible for the fruit’s beneficial effects against Alzheimer’s. Previously, this type of flavonoid has been shown to improve cognitive function in animal models.
In the first of their studies, the researchers gathered 47 adults whose ages were over 67 years old and who exhibited mild cognitive impairment, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The participants were given either freeze-dried blueberry powder, equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries, or a placebo powder once a day. After 16 weeks of treatment, those who received blueberry powder exhibited significant improvements in brain function and cognitive performance than those in the control group. This manifested in better memory and access to words and concepts.
The second study involved 94 people between 62 to 80 years old who have not been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s but were experiencing memory decline. Participants that were treated with blueberries exhibited improvements in memory. However, the results were not as striking as those from their first study.
Overall, the results of these studies suggest that blueberries are promising foods for the prevention of Alzheimer’s. However, the scientists recommend doing more studies, such as one with younger people with risk factors for Alzheimer’s, to determine the full extent of this fruit’s benefits against this disease. (Related: Organic blueberries improve brain function and sharpen memory, while lowering risk of dementia.)
More health benefits associated with blueberries
You can also enjoy the following health benefits if you increase your intake of blueberries:
- Stronger bones — Blueberries are rich in essential minerals for building and maintaining bones. These include iron, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K.
- Healthy blood pressure — To maintain healthy blood pressure, it is important to have low sodium levels in the body. Since blueberries are free of sodium, you can snack on them without having to worry about your blood pressure. Moreover, the potassium, calcium, and magnesium packed in this fruit help improve hypertension.
- Lower risk of heart disease — The high fiber content of blueberries helps reduce bad cholesterol in the blood, which could block the arteries. In addition to this, blueberries are rich in vitamin B6 and folate that prevent homocysteine from accumulating and damaging blood vessels.
Read Blueberries.news for more breaking news on the nutritional properties of blueberries.