If you’re not already incorporating blueberries into your diet on a regular basis, their brain health-boosting benefits may motivate you to start. Long considered as a kind of “superfood”, blueberries equal brain health. Their brain-boosting power comes from their high concentration of antioxidants, which help to balance the number of free radicals in the body to counteract oxidative stress and support a healthy, well-functioning immune system.
Oxidative stress has been shown to quicken the aging process of your brain and negatively affect brain function. If the balance of free radicals, which are created during the process of oxidation, exceeds the number of antioxidants, there can be negative impacts on the body’s proteins, DNA and fatty tissues. The antioxidants in blueberries have been found to slow memory impairments and motor coordination that are typically associated with this aging process.
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Scientists have found that healthy older adults who consumed concentrated blueberry juice every day showed a significant increase in brain activity, blood flow and even memory compared to the placebo group after just a few weeks. The antioxidants, particularly the flavonoids, in blueberries have also been shown to promote these effects, as well as offer other brain health benefits including:
- Lowering dementia risk
- Reducing effects of Alzheimer’s
- Preventing age-related memory loss
- Boosting brain cells
- Increasing concentration and focus
- Improving mental health
Blueberries are also low in calories and sugar. Ounce for ounce, blueberries have about one third the calories of other fruits such as bananas, with about 20% less sugar. They are one of the most nutrient-dense berries and are very rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. Blueberries are loaded with water which makes them hydrating as well. Each blueberry contains about 85% water.
Fresh or Frozen?
When it comes to the debate between choosing fresh or frozen blueberries, the answer is… BOTH! Whether consumed fresh, frozen, canned or as an extract, blueberries offer countless health benefits. In fact, frozen blueberries – especially when they’re frozen at the point of harvest – are just as nutritious as fresh blueberries. Just be sure to check the labels closely, and make sure there’s no added sugar.
Tips for Purchasing Blueberries
- To save on cost, buy fresh blueberries when they’re in season and the price is low. You can then freeze them to enjoy later.
- Blend blueberries into smoothies, add them to Greek yogurt, use them in our gluten-free cobbler, or simply enjoy them fresh, straight out of the bag.
Blueberries won’t necessarily solve cognition problems or make us instantly smarter. That said, every little bit (and berry) helps. Before making any significant changes to your diet, talk to your healthcare provider or registered dietician.
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