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Blueberry Enhances Memory and Heart Function

2 November 2018
Connie Packer


Blueberries are the first food love of many toddlers. The first time they mistake small olives for blueberries is almost comical. I wish we could grow blueberries here in Utah (and so do my children) but, alas, our alkaline soil and ground water make it difficult for the plant to absorb the nutrients it needs.

Diets high in polyphenols and flavonoids from foods like blueberries have been associated with healthy aging. Associations between diet and health outcomes are a starting point for research. When the compounds from foods are concentrated into a supplement, expected outcomes can either disappear or become more significant. The supplement form should be used in further research to measure the actual impact that the supplement can have before assumptions are made.

Blueberry extract may enhance memory and improve heart function. A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study to Compare the Safety and Efficacy of Low Dose Enhanced Wild Blueberry Powder and Wild Blueberry Extract (ThinkBlue™) in Maintenance of Episodic and Working Memory in Older Adults. This study recruited 122 adults, aged 65-80, with memory complaints. Participants received either a placebo, 500 mg whole wild blueberry powder, 1000 mg whole wild blueberry powder, or 100 mg purified extract (50 mg polyphenols). The authors noted that this extract was a smaller amount than that used in other studies. The groups receiving the whole wild blueberry powder supplements did not score better than placebo on any test. At 3 months of treatment, the blueberry extract group had improved episodic memory (recalling a sequence) and delayed word recognition, though the difference was not significant at 6 months. The researchers proposed that by 6 months the participants may have become too familiar with the tests and/or the product may have degraded, requiring more research. At 3 and 6 months, systolic blood pressure was lower in the group receiving the blueberry extract, by about 3 and 7 mmHg respectively.

Turmeric Curcumin and Boswellia Serrata may improve joint comfort. A Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Study Demonstrates the Clinical Efficacy of a Novel Herbal Formulation for Relieving Joint Discomfort in Human Subjects with Osteoarthritis of Knee. This study involved 105 people with osteoarthritis, age 40 to 75, and BMI of 18 to 30. Participants were given either a placebo or 200 mg or 400 mg of a combination supplement for 90 days. The combination supplement included extracts of Terminalia chebula fruit, Curcuma longa rhizome, and Boswellia serrata gum resin. By 90 days the supplement groups experienced pain relief, improved physical function, and improved quality of life.

Caffeine does not replace sleep. Using coffee to compensate for poor sleep: Impact on vigilance and implications for workplace performance. This study gave 69 adults 1 cup of water or 1 cup of coffee (100 mg caffeine) then measured reaction time, errors of omission and errors of commission at 30, 90, and 120 minutes. A questionnaire was used to group participants as having had good quality sleep the night before or poor quality sleep. In both sleep groups, reaction time was improved with coffee. Drinking coffee after poor quality sleep increased commission errors, suggesting that coffee reduced inhibitions. Drinking coffee after poor quality sleep also reduced omission errors, though the errors were still greater than those who drank water after a night of good quality sleep. Coffee, with its caffeine, may improve work performance but does not fully compensate for poor quality sleep.

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