Effects of daily consumption of wild blueberry on cognition and urinary metabolites in school-aged children: a pilot study

Eur J Nutr. 2021 Dec;60(8):4263-4278. doi: 10.1007/s00394-021-02588-y. Epub 2021 May 23.


Purpose: Acute intervention with wild blueberry (WBB) has previously revealed positive cognitive and mood effects in typically developing children; however, it is unclear whether effects persist after daily supplementation. In addition, no data have been published exploring the metabolite profiles of children following berry consumption, to our knowledge. A study of this kind could provide insight into a mechanism of action for the cognitive and mood improvements observed previously in children. The aim of this pilot study was to assess cognitive performance and urinary metabolite concentrations in healthy 7-10-year-old children across a 4 week daily WBB drink intervention.

Methods: This pilot study examined the effects of daily WBB consumption for 4 weeks (766 mg total polyphenols; 253 mg anthocyanins; equivalent to 240 g fresh blueberries per day) on cognition and mood in 15 healthy 7-10-year-old children. Polyphenol metabolites were measured in 24 h urine before and after the 4 week intervention.

Results: Chronic WBB-related benefits were seen on cognitively demanding trials on the modified attention network task, a task measuring executive functioning. Specifically, the WBB group maintained significantly higher accuracy on incongruent trials (96%; SE 0.03) compared with placebo participants (85%; SE 0.03; p = 0.038) after the 4 week intervention, suggesting WBB was of most benefit on the more difficult aspects of the task. No significant WBB-related effects were observed on the auditory verbal learning task or the child's version of the positive and negative affect schedule. Urinary metabolite analyses indicated significant increases in different metabolites in WBB and placebo groups after 4 week consumption.

Conclusion: The research demonstrates 24 h WBB bioavailability in a child cohort for the first time with increases in urinary hippuric acid excretion during 2 week daily WBB consumption. This study highlights the importance of conducting a larger study in children investigating the mechanism of action behind cognitive effects using bioavailability data.

Keywords: Blueberries; Children; Cognition; Executive function; Flavonoids; Metabolite.

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins
  • Blueberry Plants*
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Schools


  • Anthocyanins