Blueberry Vinegar May Help Protect Against Dementia
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's disease is growing fast. An estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease. Medicines have been developed to help extend cognitive function, but often do not last. Researchers are in search of additional ways to help prevent cognitive decline and are turning to natural sources, such as fruits and fermented foods.
Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability and poor health.
Recent studies suggest that the brains of those living with Alzheimers disease have lower levels of the signaling compound acetylcholine and is receptors. A blockage of these receptors disrupts learning and memory.
Blueberries are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that appear to affect acetylcholinesterase activity and thus improve cognitive function. Vinegar, as a fermented food, may boost the bioactivity of this natural compound, thus making the combination particularly beneficial in the fight against dementia.
Researcher Beong-Ou Lim carried out a study on lab mice that seemed to confirm his hypothesis that blueberry vinegar helped improve short-term memory. Measurements of brain molecules suggested that vinegar, in particular, helped to reduce the breakdown of acetylecholine and also boosted levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein associated with maintaining and creating healthy neurons.
Of course, this research is still in very early stages and should not be used as a substitute for current evidence-based findings for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, blueberry vinegar makes a tasty and healthy addition to homemade vinaigrettes and marinades/sauces. The US Highbush Blueberry Council offers this recipe for making blueberry vinegar at home:
• 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
• 2 cups white wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons sugar
1. In a large non-reactive saucepan, crush the blueberries with a potato masher or back of a large spoon. Stir in vinegar and sugar; bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. Pour the mixture into 1-quart jar or storage container; cover and refrigerate 48 hours to allow flavors to blend.
3. In a fine wire sieve, strain blueberry mixture pressing out as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Line the sieve with cheesecloth and strain out finer particles. Pour vinegar into a glass bottle or jar and cover. Refrigerate.
Preparation time: 48 hours including marinating time
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1-1/2 cups
Seong Min Hong, Beong Ou Lim et al. Cognitive Improving Effects by Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium crymbosum L.) Vinegar on Scopolamine-Induced Amnesia Mice Model. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2017; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03965
Papandreou MA et al. Effect of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry extract on cognitive performance of mice, brain antioxidant markers and acetylcholinesterase activity. Behav Brain Res. 2009 Mar 17;198(2):352-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.11.013. Epub 2008 Nov 17.