Blueberries: Superfood that can help you improve brain health By Mary Villareal for Super Foods
GNN Note – I love an organic blueberry smoothie with organic banana and organic almond milk!!! Simple, delicious, superfood yummy!! / END
The term “superfood” gets thrown around a lot these days, but blueberries certainly deserve that title. They are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that provide benefits for gut health, support weight loss and even lower blood pressure.
One of the best benefits blueberries can offer is helping improve brain health.
Blueberries are packed with tannins and anthocyanins that have been linked to anti-cancer effects and are also shown to prevent and reverse age-related mental decline, including coordination and balance. Anthocyanins are nutritional compounds that have been linked with helping sharpen memory. Its anti-inflammatory properties help protect brain cells against aging.
The flavonoids in blueberries, namely catechin, epicatechin, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol, are valuable for health and are essential for the normal function of the immune system.
A diet that includes at least half a serving of food high in flavonoids could reduce risk of cognitive decline by 20 percent.
Dr. Tal Friedman, head naturopath and research and development specialist at Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Thailand, said it is no surprise that memory starts to deteriorate as people age, but it’s beginning to look like blueberries may help support memory health. “When wild blueberry juice was supplemented for 12 weeks to older adults, it improved their memory function significantly,” he said.
When freeze-dried blueberry powder was given to adults over 68 years of age with mild cognitive impairment for 16 weeks, they were found to have improved memory, cognitive performance and overall brain function.
Friedman explained that blueberries can improve brain health by increasing something called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps ensure the survival of existing brain cells and tissues, as well as promote the growth and proliferation of new neurons.
Studies have also shown that adding blueberries to the diet can increase the birth rate of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory functions. (Related: Eating blueberries and strawberries is a proactive solution for preventing cognitive impairment.)
While blueberries were not shown to directly improve gait or balance, researchers are also helpful about their ability to positively impact other aspects of brain health. Studies have shown that the addition of achievable quantities of blueberries in the diets of older adults can improve some aspects of cognition.
Another vitamin that allows neurotransmitters is folate, which is a type of chemical messenger in the brain that governs mood and allows cognition to function properly. It also has beneficial effects on mental health, brain health and cognitive age.
Eating two cups of blueberries a day can help prevent other diseases linked to metabolic syndrome as well, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes and heart diseases. Metabolic syndrome, which affects around 37 percent of the adults in the U.S., has at least three of the following health problems associated with it: abdominal obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
Blueberries as a diet staple
There are different ways to incorporate blueberries into one’s daily diet. Many suggest adding half a cup to a cup of blueberries per day. These fruits are versatile, accessible and delicious, making them easy to incorporate into the diet of even the pickiest eaters.
Whether fresh, freeze-dried or frozen, blueberries are all good for health. A 2004 study found that drying and freezing blueberries have no impact on the antioxidant activity of anthocyanin, which means that any form available is okay for consumption.
You can add blueberries in breakfast food with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The antioxidants in both blueberries and cinnamon will help ward off inflammation and eliminate cell-damaging free radicals that could lead to conditions such as dementia.
Mixing blueberries with cottage cheese or yogurt makes a healthy snack. Dairy allows the body to absorb the blueberry’s nutrients better. (Related: Blueberries are bursting with various antioxidants that reduce the risk of dementia.)
Blueberries are also great for people who are always on the go. They can be blended alongside other fruits and vegetables like strawberries and kale to make delicious smoothies. Frozen blueberries can also be used when they’re not in season, and can make for a very refreshing drink.