Finally! Something that is widely available, reasonably affordable and yes, even quite tasty – is actually good for us!
Hailed as the new “brain berry,” blueberries are being touted as one of the best fruits to have in your diet on a regular basis. In fact, Dr. James Joseph, PhD and lead scientist in the Laboratory of Neuroscience at TuftsUniversity, states that when it comes to brain protection, “there is nothing quite like blueberries.” The groundbreaking research of Dr. Joseph and others are demonstrating that a daily consumption of modest amounts of blueberries (about ½ cup), dramatically slows impairments in memory and motor coordination that normally accompanies aging.
Additional studies have also shown blueberries (and its European cousin, the bilberry) to be effective at:
- Lowering blood cholesterol
- Promote urinary tract health and reduce urinary infections
- Improve night vision
- Halt cataract progression
- Protect against glaucoma
- Suppress the growth of several types of cancer cells
- Improved learning and memory skills
- Slowing the brain’s normal aging process
So what’s in those tiny, dark-colored berries that makes them so powerful?
After testing 24 varieties of fresh fruit, 23, vegetables, 16 herbs and spices, 10 different nuts, and 4 dried fruits, the US Department of Agriculture determined that blueberries scored highest overall in total antioxidant capacity per serving.
Remember, it is antioxidants (Vitamins C, A, E, the mineral Zinc, etc.) that are vital in countering free radicals – the harmful agents that can contribute to a variety of age-related conditions (like wrinkles) and many diseases, including cancer. Additionally, blueberries contain anthocyanins (antioxidant flavonoid pigments) which are important for:
- maintaining general eye health
- reducing inflammatory eye disease
- reducing/slowing the damage from diabetes (diabetic retinopathy)
- reducing/preventing damage from macular degeneration.
So, how do you go about getting more blueberries into your daily diet?
We asked colleagues, patients, family, and friends for their ideas and here is the list we have so far:
- Add them to cereal, muffins, coffee cakes, etc. for breakfast
- Blend them in smoothies
- Eat fresh blueberries plain by the handful (like candy) – when they’re in season, they are very sweet and yummy!
- Toss some into salads – one of my friends makes a great chicken salad with blueberries! My sister loves blueberries with Romaine lettuce, candied walnuts and blue cheese.
- Serve them in desserts like pies, bars, trifles and as toppings for ice cream, custard, etc. I recently tried placing homemade whipped cream and berries in alternating layers in a pint-sized mason jar – which was a huge hit with family and friends. The mason jars also make these “mini trifles” very easy to store in the fridge, pack in a lunch box, or take to a picnic.
Lastly, the good news is that it doesn’t matter if the blueberries are fresh (organic is always better if available), frozen, canned or even taken in the form of a supplement – getting enough blueberries in any of these ways is all it takes to help your brain function better, longer — and your eyes to keep seeing and working their best!