Fuel Your Brain with Blueberries!
Blueberries are flowering plants which are native only to North America. Not only are blueberries rich in nutrients as well as antioxidants, but there is emerging research for numerous health benefits associated with blueberries. Blueberries are considered functional foods and are sub-classified in this category as super fruits.
Potential Benefits of Blueberries:
lowering blood pressure
preventing: urinary tract infections (UTI’s), cancer, and cognitive decline
Blueberries contain anthocyanins, flavanols, tannins and other phytochemicals which have several putative health benefits including lowering cholesterol, blood pressure as well as preventing UTIs (urinary tract infections) ,cancer, and cognitive decline. Two important causes of ‘brain aging’ include both oxidative stress which essentially involves cell destruction from free radicals and inflammation.
“It is estimated that by the year 2050 the elderly (aged 65 or older) population will double the population of children (aged 0-14) for the first time in history. The expansion of the elderly population has already taken a toll on health care systems. In order to alleviate the health care costs and increase the quality of living in the aging population, it is crucial to explore methods that may retard or reverse the deleterious effects of aging. Inflammation and oxidative stress play important roles in brain aging.
Inflammatory markers, as well as cellular and molecular oxidative damage, increase during normal brain aging. This increase is accompanied by the concomitant decline in cognitive and motor performance in the elderly population, even in the absence of neurodegenerative diseases.
Epidemiological studies have shown that consumption of diets rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, may lower the risk of developing age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research from our laboratory suggests that dietary supplementation with fruit or vegetable extracts can decrease the age-enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress and inflammation. Additional research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds found in fruits such as blueberries may exert their beneficial effects through signal transduction and neuronal communication.
“Thus, nutritional intervention may exert therapeutic protection against age-related deficits and neurodegenerative diseases.”
Interestingly, Jamie Gold, reportedly consumed blueberries throughout the 2006 World Series of Poker–which he ultimately won. Though blueberries may not actually ‘super-charge’ your brain, there is enough compelling evidence to suggest that blueberries may actually offer protection against age-related cognitive decline.
- Lau FC, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Nutritional intervention in brain aging: reducing the effects of inflammation and oxidative stress. Subcell Biochem. 2007;42:299-318.