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Grape-Blueberry Extract Improves Cognition in At-Risk Older Adults

10/9/2018 11:51:42 AM
Age-related cognitive decline, defined as non-pathological yet meaningful decreases in memory and mental abilities, can develop with advancing age in any person. Epidemiological studies suggest that better nutritional habits are associated with lower rates of cognitive decline, and polyphenols in fruits and vegetables have specifically been associated with better cognitive function in older adults.
 
A randomized controlled trial was conducted in France to evaluate the effect of a polyphenol-rich extract of grape and blueberry on memory in healthy older adults (aged 60-70 years). All subjects had scores indicating normal cognition on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Subjects were screened to have a usual dietary intake of polyphenols and not consume high levels of omega-3 fatty acids or polyphenol-containing supplements.
 
Participants were randomized to take a placebo or dry extract (600 mg per day in capsule form) of grape (Vitis vinifera L.) and blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) for 6 months. The primary outcome measure was the change in score on a visuospatial learning and episodic memory test called the CANTAP Paired Associate Learning (PAL). Secondary outcomes included verbal episodic and recognition memory and working memory.
 
After the 6-month intervention period, there was no significant effect of the grape and blueberry extract on the primary outcome measure (change from baseline in PAL score). However, there was a significant improvement seen in the secondary outcome of verbal episodic and recognition memory, such that the total number of correct recalled words was significantly higher in the intervention group than in the placebo group after 6 months.
 
When subjects were stratified according to their memory performance at baseline, those with more advanced cognitive decline at baseline showed significantly improved cognitive performance on the primary outcome measure (PAL score) and the secondary outcome measure (verbal and episodic memory) after 6 months. In this subgroup, urinary concentrations of some flavan-3-ol metabolites were associated with memory improvements.
 
Although significant effects were not shown for the primary outcome measure of this study, the results suggest that a polyphenol-rich extract of grape and blueberry might support better cognition in healthy older adults who are beginning to experience evidence of cognitive decline.  
 
Reference
Bensalem J, Dudonné S, Etchamendy N et al. Polyphenols from grape and blueberry improve episodic memory in healthy elderly with lower level of memory performance: a bicentric double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018;

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