March 30, 2023

ORNONO, ME, USA – March 30, 2023 – New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition further supports that daily consumption of wild blueberries improves episodic memory, executive function, and blood pressure in healthy adults. The 12-week clinical trial called BluFlow, led by Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, Associate Professor in Nutrition at the Department of Nutritional Sciences of King’s College London, and Professor Claire Williams, Chair of Neuroscience in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, investigated the cognitive and vascular benefits of daily wild blueberry consumption in healthy older individuals.

BluFlow Study Design & Results

The BluFlow, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial focused on healthy older men and women, ages 65 to 80. Participants were divided into two groups with one receiving a beverage made with 26 grams of freeze dried whole wild blueberry powder (equivalent to about ¾ cup whole berries, or 178 grams of fresh blueberries) and the other, a placebo matched for macro and micronutrients, as well as fiber, color, and taste. Both groups consumed their beverages daily at the same time over the course of 12 weeks.

Scientists found that daily wild blueberry supplementation for 12 weeks led to improvements in cognitive and vascular function. Specifically, those who consumed the wild blueberry beverage daily exhibited:

  • Improved episodic memory (AVLT immediate word recall)
  • Improved accuracy and quicker reaction time on switch task (executive function)
  • Improved peripheral vascular function (flow mediated dilation (FMD) and lower systolic blood pressure)

“In terms of vascular function, our results reinforce what we’ve found before in younger populations—that consuming wild blueberries improves blood vessel function as well as lowers blood pressure. We think the effects are driven by the blue pigments in blueberries, the anthocyanins, and we found increases in their metabolites in the blood and urine of the volunteers consuming wild blueberry. This study also documented increases in some beneficial bacteria in the gut that seem to be driven by wild blueberry consumption, although larger studies are needed to confirm the role of the gut microbiota on the beneficial effects seen here,” explains Dr Rodriguez-Mateos.

Building on a 20+ Year Body of Brain Health Wild Blueberry Research

The BluFlow study results build on a growing body of evidence that consuming wild blueberries has a positive effect on cognitive performance.

“It’s clear from this study that consuming wild blueberries is beneficial to cognitive function, as well as vascular health. We saw improvements in healthy older adults who consumed a freeze-dried wild blueberry powder, daily, for 12 weeks” said Professor Williams. “The group who had the wild blueberry powder showed signs of better memory and greater mental flexibility when completing cognitive tasks. This is consistent with what we already know about the health benefits of anthocyanin-rich foods. It points to an important role of polyphenols in healthy ageing.”

While multiple studies have shown improvements from wild blueberry consumption in both heart health and brain function in compromised populations, in this study, impressive results were shown in healthy adults, too.

“These vascular and cognitive findings track right along with the common saying that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” says Kitty Broihier, MS, RD, LD, nutrition advisor for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. “This is great news for the broader population, as now we know that more of us may experience these health benefits from a daily dose of wild blueberries.”

Further research findings can be found by visiting the wild blueberry research library.

This research was funded by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America.