Blueberries–also known as “brain berries” and “youth berries”

It’s blueberry season, so stock up!  One study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate 1 cup of blueberries a day had increased blood levels of antioxidants that may play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, senility, cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration.  Other studies have shown that high blood levels of antioxidants have played a role in the prevention of breast cancer.  (Check out 7 Proven Reasons to Eat more Blueberries.)

Historically, blueberries were pounded into dried meat to reduce its rate of spoilage.  The berries and leaves were also used to make tea as a remedy for diarrhea.

Blueberries are rich in tannins that can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, and they also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to relieve both constipation and diarrhea.

Like cranberries, blueberries are beneficial for the urinary tract by reducing the ability of E. coli bacteria to adhere to the lining of the urethra and bladder.

Anthocyanins give blueberries their deep blue color and contain powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from damage that can lead to degenerative diseases.  They also contain the flavonoid quercetin, which has significant anti-inflammatory abilities.

Research done on rats by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University, directed by Dr. James Joseph, showed better brain performance and improvement in coordination and balance in the rats that were fed the human equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries a day.  The study also showed that their brains seemed to communicate better, had less damage, and they even developed new brain cells!

Blueberries seem to have a positive effect on the areas of the brain that control movement and have shown positive effects on those with multiple sclerosis.  Some early studies on people who consumed a cup of blueberries a day showed improved performance on tests of motor skills.

Blueberries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce cancer rates in people who consumed the most dietary ellagic acid.  They were 3 times less likely to develop cancer.

Other fruits with similar health properties:  raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, purple grapes, cranberries, and boysenberries.

Eat a variety for all of their various health benefits.  Keep fresh, frozen, and dried fruits on hand.  Buy them unsweetened and without added preservatives or flavorings.  Remove any moldy berries before storing in the refrigerator.

Check the EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to see which ones are on the Clean 15 and Dirty 12 Lists.  The good news is that blueberries are not on the Dirty 12, but strawberries are number 1 this year for being highly contaminated with pesticides.  Grapes come in at number 6 and cherries at number 7.  I recommend that you buy these two fruits organic.

Red and blue berries are perfect for adding a patriotic touch to your fourth of July celebration!

Happy Independence Day!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

1 Corinthians 10:31–                                                                                                                “Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

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