Eating blueberries may help treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, according to a new study.
Scientists from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada tested the effects of blueberry extract in fruit flies. First, they injected healthy fruit flies with a gene called alpha-synuclein, which researchers say has been proven to cause Parkinson’s disease. After the flies were injected with the gene, they developed various defects, including retinal degeneration and reduced lifespan. Researchers then separated the flies into two groups—one was fed blueberry extract, and the other was given a standard control diet.
The researchers found that the flies fed the blueberry extract showed greater improvements in their defects than did the control group. The blueberry-fed flies showed improvements in eye defects and also had a 15 percent—or approximately eight-day—greater lifespan than the flies in the control group. The equivalent for humans is an eight-year extended lifespan, researchers said.
Since food products do not receive as much medical testing as do pharmaceuticals, the researchers said that they plan to conduct further studies on blueberry and cranberry extracts to better understand their effects on diseases.