Study: Wild blueberry juice makes kids smarter

Drinking wild blueberry juice could significantly improve cognitive ability in children, a new study suggests.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Reading in England, examined 21 children between the ages of seven and 10. They were given either a large dose of wild blueberry juice, a small dose or a placebo.

Claire Williams, a professor with the university’s psychology department, organized the study.

“Wild blueberries are rich in flavonoids — compounds found naturally in foods such as fruits and their juices, vegetables and tea. They have been associated with a range of health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects,” Williams said in a news release.

“We have known for some time that flavonoids promote healthy brain function in adults. However, this is the first fully controlled, double-blinded research study to examine the effects of flavonoids on cognitive behaviour in children.”

Their cognitive skills were measured one hour and 15 minutes after drinking the juice, again after three hours and then for a third time after six hours. The tests measured basic cognitive functions like verbal memory, word recognition and the ability to focus.

Williams said the children who consumed a high dose of wild blueberry juice performed better on the cognitive tests than those who drank the placebos or the lower doses.

“The composite scores for all the tasks highlighted a significant difference in the children’s cognition results, with the high-strength wild blueberry drink leading to the best performance and the placebo the least effective performance.”

The results are consistent with a 2010 study that measured the effects of wild blueberry juice on memory function in seniors. In that study, researchers found adults with age-related memory changes posted significant improvements after drinking Van Dyk’s pure wild blueberry juice every day for 12 weeks.

Nova Scotia is the largest producer of wild blueberries in Canada, so farmers are happy about the health benefits of their products. Case van Dyk, president of Van Dyk’s Health Juice Products in Caledonia, Queens County, said he’s excited about the results of the recent study and hopes more people try out his juice.

“As a longtime harvester of wild blueberries and founder of a company dedicated to producing products that retain the rich bioactive nutrients of the wild blueberry, it’s exciting to see a growing body of evidence demonstrating that wild blueberry products like our pure juice can have significant positive health impacts for regular consumers.”

Laforce. C (2015). Study: Wild blueberry juice makes kids smarter. The Chronicle Herald