Seniors with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may have some difficulties with memory, language, thinking and judgement, but, unlike Alzheimer’s, the difficulty is not serious enough to cause real problems in everyday living.

A small single-blind study of older adults with MCI has already found that blueberry juice (providing 428-598mg of anthocyanins) significantly improves memory and learning scores (J Agric Food Chem 2010;58:3996- 4000).

Now an exciting new placebo-controlled study adds to the evidence that blueberries can help people with MCI. . . .

New research being presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society is providing exciting evidence for blueberries and MCI. The American Chemical Society is the largest scientific society in the world.

Forty-seven people who were sixty-eight or older participated in the study. All of them had mild cognitive impairment. Everyone in the study got either a placebo powder or a freeze-dried blueberry powder that was equivalent to eating a cup of blueberries a day. The study lasted sixteen weeks.

Compared to the placebo group, the people in the blueberry group had improved memory and improved access to words and concepts. They had a significant 72% improvement in “semantic access” and a 13% improvement in visual-spatial memory. The people who got the blueberries also had increased brain activity according to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), while the placebo group did not.

This study is very exciting because as many as 42% of seniors are affected by MCI, and, though not everyone with MCI will go on to develop dementia, MCI is associated with an increased risk of dementia. It is also exciting that something as simple and healthy as blueberries can help, because the cognitive enhancing drugs used for Alzheimer’s not only are incapable of helping people with MCI, they actually do harm due to their side effects (CMAJ 2013;185:1393-1401).

Presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, March 14, 2016

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