Yes, you read that right, blueberries do have superpowers! And boy am I glad because I love, love, love blueberries.
Welcome back to part 7 in my brain health series where I explore holistic and scientifically tested ways to improve our brain health. I became particularly interested in brain health when I was first recovering from addiction and was concerned with the damage I caused. I was looking for hope and was encouraged when I learned that the brain has the amazing ability to health.
Ultimately, I find my hope in my faith in Christ. However, if I believe that God created everything than I also believe He created science. 😉
I find the human brain the most fascinating of the human organs and so I will continue to research and write on this topic. Furthermore, since the brain affects everything we do it’s a worthy study! In my brain health series, I’ve been mainly reviewing two books (below). For this post, though, my inspiration came from an article from a local newspaper on the brain benefits of blueberries.
The Medina Gazette is a local paper that my parents subscribe to. Yes, they still get a real tangible newspaper delivered to their home. So many people read their news online these days but there is something nice about holding a paper in your hands. Anyway, my Mom shared this article, Berry Nice, by Phyllis Molnar with me. It was jammed packed full of the benefits of the blueberry. Are you tired of the puns yet?
Every year my family goes to a local blueberry farm and picks our own blueberries. We have blueberry pie, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, smoothies with blueberries, and oh yeah, just plain blueberries. You cannot go wrong! Most of us freeze a bunch of them to get us through the winter. I knew that freezing blueberries did not destroy the nutrients and Molnar confirmed that.
Picking berries at a local farm is also a cost-effective way to store up on this power fruit. It’s really a win-win!
However, if you cannot pick your blueberries (or you are like me and run out of your summer frozen stock before next picking season), you can buy them in the frozen food section at your local grocery store. According to Molnar, it is best to buy ones labeled wild because they contain approximately 1 & 1/2 times the nutrients of conventional ones. Why is that? Well, most of the nutrients are in the skin and wild blueberries are smaller. That being said, it takes more wild blueberries to fill a cup.
Brain Health Benefits of Blueberries
Memory is one of the most wonderful things we can enjoy and no one wants to experience its decline. There have been studies at Tuff’s University where neuroscientists found that animals with cognitive decline regained memory, motor skills, and balance after eating blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries.
Furthermore, there have been numerous other studies showing memory improvement in animals after eating blueberries.
“The compounds in blueberries are thought to work by reducing inflammation of brain neurons, increasing blood flow to the brain and activating synaptic signaling between neurons in the brain. It appears that some anthocyanins actually pass through the blood-brain barrier and have a direct beneficial effect on the brain.” – Phyllis J. Molnar (Medina Gazette, August 6th, 2019)
Additionally, according to Life Extension Magazine blueberries enhance brain activity, improve brain blood flow, and improve working memory.
Brain Fuel & Healing
I love this guest post on Faithful Workouts by Bree Rossi (Master’s in Neuroscience from the U. of Iowa). Bree writes about the top 5 Brain Foods and not surprising, blueberries made the cut. It’s the antioxidants in the fabulously blue skin of the blueberry which not only gives our brains fuel but can aid in their healing.
Other Health Benefits of Blueberries
According to Molnar and other sources, there is a whole slew of health benefits from eating blueberries:
- A reduction in inflammation overall
- Increases the number of good bacteria in our guts
- A decrease in heart risks
- Inhibits cancer cell growth
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Fight urinary tract infections
- Weight control
Since I cannot link to Molnar’s article from the Medina Gazette, I’ve taken my best pictures of the piece:
How could I do all this without giving you, at least one recipe involving blueberries?
Deanna’s Overnight Oats
Makes about 8 servings
- 4 cups of oats (steel cut or old fashioned)
- 3 & 1/2 cups of some kind of milk (almond milk, coconut milk, or organic grass-fed milk). My personal preference is Trader Joe’s Blueberry Lavender Flavored Almond Beverage
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 2-4 tablespoons of honey (not really necessary if you use Trader Joe’s Blueberry Lavender Flavored Almond Beverage because it’s sweetened)
- 2 cups of blueberries
- 2 bananas (hint: the ripper the bananas are the better they are for mashing)
- Cinamon to taste (I rarely measure and just throw stuff in!)
- Vanilla extract to taste (approximately 1 tablespoon)
Mash the bananas with a fork and then mix it with the oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla, and honey (if you are adding that). Finally, throw the blueberries into the mix. Divide out the mixture into 6-8 mason jars (it depends upon how big you like your servings. Lastly, divvy up the milk into each jar.
Put lids on the jars, and the jars into the fridge overnight. Voila, you’ve got breakfast for the next week! All you need to do is take the lid off and pop it into microwave for a minute or two if you like your oatmeal warm.
So not only are you getting a brain boost but you are also saving on time and decision fatigue by doing this small amount of meal prep.
Continually, I am reminded that the best foods for our brains grow on our lovely earth. What better way to support local agriculture than by going blueberry picking? You can enjoy the beauty of picking berries on a farm, start a new family tradition, save on grocery costs, and amazingly improve your brain health.
What’s not to like about this win-win-win-win-win situation?