What to Know About the Connection Between Blueberries and Memory
Two new reviews suggest blueberries are great for cognition. Does that mean they’re this year’s superfruit?
Blueberries are fascinating to scientists. In humans, the berries have been shown to lower blood pressure and help kids perform better on cognitive tests. In rats, there’s evidence the fruit improves working memory and helps the animals balance. It seems the simple berry has a lot to offer the brain.
Two recently published systematic reviews — summaries of already conducted research — support that theory. Both studies found that the overall scientific literature suggests that eating blueberries can improve overall cognitive performance and help elevate mood.
Wolfgang Marx, a nutrition researcher at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, who co-authored one of the reviews published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, says blueberries are receiving a lot of research attention because they are a rich source of micronutrients, and epidemiological studies from the last decade have found that eating flavonoid-rich foods can improve cognitive decline.
As part of the review, Marx and colleagues identified 12 studies — all randomized control trials, considered the gold standard in research — that looked at the effect of eating blueberries on short-term, long-term, and spatial memory. They found that a number of trials showed significant improvements in various measures of cognitive ability after men and women in the studies ate blueberries. The other review, published in June by another research group, looked at 11 studies exploring the link between blueberries and cognitive performance and found that people who eat berries performed better on memory tasks.
So, can blueberries be named fruit of the year?
Not so fast.
While this new research certainly supports the well-known fact that berries are a healthy food, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone who wants a memory boost should start chowing down on a carton of them. All of the studies reviewed by Marx and his team are quite small and the experiments were carried out over short periods of time. What’s more, each study used a variety…