Animal study lends credence to Blueberries and brain health
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Reading and the Peninsula
Medical School shows that supplementing the diet of rats with blueberries over
a 12-week period caused a long-term improvement in brain power. The research
team said that improvements in spatial working memory tasks emerged within three
weeks and continued throughout the period of the study.
Three groups of adult male rats were used in the study. The first group was
comprised of 'young' rats, aged 6 months at the start of the testing period,
while the remaining rats were all 18 months old and were randomly assigned to
either an 'aged' group or an 'aged + blueberry-supplemented' group. Those in
the blueberry-supplemented group had powdered blueberries incorporated into
the standard rat feed at a level of 2 per cent. The animals were tested in a
maze apparatus. Animals in the 'young' group were found to perform "extremely
well and very consistently", scoring an average of 90 per cent correct
on each test day. The 'aged' animals were substantially impaired on this task
compared to the young animals, with an average score of only 57 per cent correct.
Similarly, the 'aged + blueberry-supplemented' group showed an age-related deficit
in performance compared to the 'young' animals at baseline achieving only 60
per cent accuracy of choice before the start of blueberry supplementation. However,
three weeks of blueberry supplementation produced a significant increase in
performance in these animals, with accuracy rising to 83 per cent by testing
in week three. This increase in performance accuracy was maintained throughout
the remainder of the treatment period, said the researchers. The study is slated
to be published shortly in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.