• Food & Drink
  • Updated May 18, 2021

Blueberries are a fruit that contain many compounds that may be beneficial for health including anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a type of flavanol that give blueberries their dark blue color and are reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Although there is mixed evidence on whether short-term blueberry supplementation can improve cognition, some evidence suggests that adding blueberries to the diet may be beneficial for brain health. Some sources of blueberries may contain pesticides, but blueberry consumption is generally safe. Less is known about blueberry supplement products.


There is conflicting evidence whether short-term consumption of blueberries or blueberry supplements will improve cognition, though as part of a diet blueberry consumption long-term may be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Our search identified:

  • 2 systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials or cross-over studies of blueberry supplementation on cognition in elderly adults or individuals with mild cognitive impairment
  • 1 observational study on blueberry intake and cognitive decline in elderly individuals
  • Multiple preclinical studies

Potential Benefit

Two systematic reviews suggested that blueberry supplementation may improve cognition or brain function in elderly individuals and patients with mild cognitive impairment [1; 2]. However, a review of the individual studies suggests that although blueberry supplementation may improve certain aspects of cognition, most cognitive tests do not show a benefit. For instance, one study reported that freeze-dried blueberry powder over six months in 37 elderly individuals improved executive function but had no effect on memory, attention, or reaction time [3]. Another study suggested that six-month treatment with a blueberry extract in 122 elderly individuals improved memory on two out of five cognitive tests at three months, but there was no improvement in cognition on any tests at six months [4]. Similar results were reported in studies of patients with subjective cognitive impairment or mild cognitive impairment with mixed results in treated patients [5; 6].

These mixed results could be due to several factors. Most of the studies were small (usually including less than 40 individuals), and most of them were short (the longest being six months). One observational study of 16,010 women suggested that high blueberry intake may be associated with less cognitive decline over four years [7]. This suggests that, although we do not have sufficient data on short-term blueberry supplementation, blueberries may be a good part of a healthy diet for brain health. However, more research is needed whether long-term consumption of blueberries can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

For Dementia Patients

No clinical trials for blueberry supplements or blueberry consumption have been conducted in Alzheimer’s patients. Preclinical studies, however, suggest that blueberries may be beneficial. Blueberry supplementation was reported to improve cognition, reduce neuronal death, improve the connections between brain cells, increase antioxidant activity in the brain, and reduce inflammation, although it did not reduce Alzheimer’s-specific biomarkers (i.e., amyloid and tau) [8; 9; 10; 11; 12]. No studies in humans have confirmed these preclinical findings.


Blueberry consumption is generally safe. There is some concern that non-organic blueberries may contain more pesticides than organic blueberries [13]; however, the USDA does not suggest that blueberries contain excessive levels of pesticides [14]. Less is known about blueberry supplements bought in vitamin stores. There is no peer-reviewed research on the safety of blueberry supplements or blueberry consumption.

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive safety evaluation or complete list of potentially harmful drug interactions. It is important to discuss safety issues with your physician before taking any new supplement or medication.

How to Use

Most clinical trials have used freeze dried blueberry supplements (22-45 g per day) that are the equivalent of 1-2 cups of blueberries per day and were provided by blueberry trade associations. An observational study suggested that more than one serving of blueberries per week (half a cup) was associated with less cognitive decline than no blueberry consumption. Less information is known about blueberry supplements bought in vitamin stores.

Learn More

Full scientific report (PDF) on Cognitive Vitality Reports


  1. Travica N, D'Cunha NM, Naumovski N et al. (2020) The effect of blueberry interventions on cognitive performance and mood: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Brain Behav Immun 85, 96-105.
  2. Hein S, Whyte AR, Wood E et al. (2019) Systematic Review of the Effects of Blueberry on Cognitive Performance as We Age. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 74, 984-995.
  3. Miller MG, Hamilton DA, Joseph JA et al. (2018) Dietary blueberry improves cognition among older adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Nutr 57, 1169-1180.
  4. Whyte AR, Cheng N, Fromentin E et al. (2018) 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. Nutrients 10.
  5. Boespflug EL, Eliassen JC, Dudley JA et al. (2018) Enhanced neural activation with blueberry supplementation in mild cognitive impairment. Nutr Neurosci 21, 297-305.
  6. Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA et al. (2010) Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem 58, 3996-4000.
  7. Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM et al. (2012) Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol 72, 135-143.
  8. Joseph JA, Denisova NA, Arendash G et al. (2003) Blueberry supplementation enhances signaling and prevents behavioral deficits in an Alzheimer disease model. Nutr Neurosci 6, 153-162.
  9. Papandreou MA, Dimakopoulou A, Linardaki ZI et al. (2009) Effect of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry extract on cognitive performance of mice, brain antioxidant markers and acetylcholinesterase activity. Behav Brain Res 198, 352-358.
  10. Tan L, Yang H, Pang W et al. (2017) Investigation on the Role of BDNF in the Benefits of Blueberry Extracts for the Improvement of Learning and Memory in Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model. J Alzheimers Dis 56, 629-640.
  11. Zhu Y, Bickford PC, Sanberg P et al. (2008) Blueberry opposes beta-amyloid peptide-induced microglial activation via inhibition of p44/42 mitogen-activation protein kinase. Rejuvenation Res 11, 891-901.
  12. Beracochea D, Krazem A, Henkouss N et al. (2016) Intake of Wild Blueberry Powder Improves Episodic-Like and Working Memory during Normal Aging in Mice. Planta Med 82, 1163-1168.
  13. Dellorto D (2010) 'Dirty dozen' produce carries more pesticide residue, group says. (accessed 4/26/2021)
  14. Pesticide Data Program. (accessed 4/26/2021)