Bluing Your Brains Out (With Blueberries)

blueberries

Ah, blueberries — the refreshing taste of summer, which you can have any time of year. What could be more gratifying than popping them into your mouth one by one, their ripe, sweet, and sour goodness being crushed between your teeth, leaving a faint bluish tint on your pucker?

But there’s much more to the little berry than you’re probably aware of. According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating this fruit daily will most likely prevent or slow age-related brain decline — as well as age-related loss of balance — and improve short-term memory loss.

“Our study gives us a picture of how diet over time might be related to a person’s cognitive decline, as we were able to look at flavonoid intake over many years prior to participants’ dementia diagnoses,” says Dr. Paul Jacques, senior author and nutritional epidemiologist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “With no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.”

Flavonoids are natural substances found in blueberries and also in other fruits and vegetables, such as pears, apples, onions, and other types of berries, and plant-based beverages like tea. Jacques and his colleagues’ study utilized blueberries as their source of flavonoids.

What happens is that highly reactive forms of oxygen called “free radicals” create chemical reactions that damage brain cells. These flavonoids found in certain foods help the oxygen in your brain fight free radicals. Therefore, flavonoids act as “antioxidants” as your first line of defense against free radicals. To counteract these radical oxidants, the brain needs an ample supply of antioxidants.

blueberries

Hence, blueberries and other flavonoid-rich foods are effectively anti-aging and disease-fighting elements for both your body and brain.

There is no shortage of what you can do with the little darlings: Eat them straight off the bush or as a frozen treat. Try them in a smoothie or in yogurt. Have one cup daily — and blue your brains out!

This article is updated from its initial publication in Brain World Magazine’s print edition.

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