If you have ever had the pleasure of blueberry picking, as is done in the Pacific Northwest of North America, you know the bliss of eating blueberries straight from the bush. There is nothing like a sun-ripened blueberry, plump and juicy, falling easily into your bucket – only to be popped into the mouth, bursting with flavor. Even if you have never picked a blueberry by hand, the taste alone can bring back memories of childhood, fluffy pancakes with piping hot berries and blueberry muffins for breakfast. Recent studies now show that blueberries can boost memory, so those warm images can stay piping fresh in your mind longer.
Big, blue and round, one of the world’s only truly blue foods, blueberries are full of antioxidants to help stave off free radicals and protect the body’s DNA. In brain health, blueberries are a ripe ingredient for smarter living and greater recall. A study which asked people around 75 years of age, to consume blueberry juice at the quantity of nearly a pound of berries per glass, daily for 12 weeks, boosted cognitive skills and memory considerably. They also found that those factors which contributed to aging were also greatly reduced by eating and drinking blueberries daily. Those conditions which normally are associated with aging and the brain, such as the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s and similar cognitive impairments were eliminated or slowed greatly by the simple act of increasing blueberry uptake.
Blueberries are the highest source of a phytonutrient called proanthocyanidins, which is thought to slow the aging process by decreasing free radicals which cause wrinkles. Blueberries nourish the nervous system and have other antioxidants such as phenols and anthocyanin, which are actually found in higher quantities in organic blueberries than conventional ones. These antioxidants don’t seem to be damaged by freezing the berries, but can be reduced by cooking them. Blueberries also contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory that can be beneficial for joint health, allergies and other conditions which have an inflamed response.
Antioxidants are important for protecting every body function as well as cancer prevention. Many foods contain one or two antioxidants, but blueberries contain a wide array of them.
Blueberries are phytonutrient superstars. These fruits contain significant amounts of anthocyanadins, antioxidant compounds that give blue, purple and red colors to fruits and vegetables. Included in blueberry anthocyanins are malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, and peonidins. In addition to their anthocyanins, blueberrries also contain hydroxycinnamic acids (including caffeic, ferulic, and coumaric acid), hydroxybenzoic acids (including gallic and procatechuic acid), and flavonols (including kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin). Blueberries also contain the unique, phenol-like antioxidants pterostilbene and resveratrol.
Blueberries are a great source of fiber, which improves the function of the intestinal system. When the colon is working properly, the brain is influenced, as there are subtle nerve endings which run from the intestines to the brain. Memory and cognitive functions can be affected by colon health, which blueberries are a positive factor in.
A great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and manganese, blueberries can improve immune system health and support bone and cardiovascular health and help prevent the development of certain types of cancer. According to many health practitioners today, Vitamin K is the “new Vitamin D”, meaning, it is receiving as much news and praise as Vitamin D was for a while in being great for your health and highly overlooked as an important nutrient. Apparently, many people are Vitamin K deficient. Research is showing that sufficient Vitamin K intake helps prevent brain diseases.
Blueberries are a rich source of Vitamin K, containing roughly 36% of the USDA recommended daily allowance in only one cup. Japanese research has shown that an adequate supply of Vitamin K can reduce bone loss and even increase bone mass – important for those suffering from osteoporosis.
Adding blueberries into your dietary routine can benefit more than a boost in memory, according to recent studies, and they are delicious to eat. Try some in a smoothie, on-top of waffles and cereal or straight up as a snack. Kids love to pop these beautiful blue balls in their mouth and adults can share the wonder of childhood once again with a fresh bowl of blueberries in hand and sunshine on the shoulders. There is so much more to blueberries not explored here, for more information on the nutritional density of blueberries, see the sources below and your own experience of blueberry consumption.
One last thought to contemplate about blueberries is the color itself and how consuming colors can benefit our health. According to yogic science, eating and being exposed to certain colors helps to activate the correlating colored chakra in the body. Chakras are energy centers, recognized in acupuncture, for distributing life-essence or life force to the rest of the body. For blue, that chakra correlating would be the throat center – the vortex of speech- affecting the speaking of one’s personal truth. Eating blueberries, by this wisdom, could support a person in being more able to speak more clearly from a place of authenticity and to taste the sweetness of life in their experiences. Try an increase in blueberry goodness, if you find it difficult to speak your mind. Blueberries can open up the blocks in the throat, improve connection to the voice and vocal center as well as nourish the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the throat.
Studies show that blueberries can boost the memory, wisdom suggests they can boost the possibility of living a more authentic life. Anyway you slice the blueberry pie – especially if it’s raw – you get health benefits for both body and mind through the consumption of the only truly blue fruit around. Don’t feel blue, eat blue and see what magic you can remember.
Written by: Stasia Bliss