The human brain has been called the most complicated system in existence.
It’s a magnificent machine composed of literally billions of cells that impact absolutely everything you think, say, feel and do. Taking care of this machine is absolutely critical to your well-being.
That’s where berries come in. Berries are the ultimate brain food! Here are some awesome facts about berries.
What You Should Know About Berries
1. Ultimate brain protection
Berries are loaded with antioxidant-rich plant compounds called flavonoids that provide potent health protection.
A research review from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston says berries protect the brain in a multitude of ways.
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They protect your brain by:
- Shielding the cells in your brain from damage caused by harmful free radicals. The brain, because of its high rate of metabolism, is a potential war zone for free radical damage.
- Reducing inflammation in the brain. Inflammation promotes and accelerates brain damage and brain aging.
- Enhancing brain cell survival – your brain cells live longer.
- Increasing neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to lay down totally new pathways that are important for learning and memory.
- Enhancing neurotransmission – the ability of brain cells to communicate or talk to each other. With good transmission, important messages are more likely to get through.
2. Keep your brain clean
Research from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston reports that berries also take care of your brain by activating a natural housekeeping mechanism.
When activated, toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and mental decline, including Alzheimer’s disease, are cleaned up and recycled. Eating berries is like hiring a housekeeper for your brain. How great is that!
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3. Brain benefits in general, really!
So, what do you get when you eat more berries? Eating more berries helps your brain age better, think better, learn better and remember more.
More berries also means you maintain better control of your muscles and limbs (as we get older a decline in brain function impacts our motor function or ability to move our body – this is why older people are more likely to trip or fall down).
Bottom line: berries are good for your brain and therefore very good for you!
4. Fresh is good, frozen may be better
One of the most little known facts about berries: while nothing beats the taste of fresh berries, frozen berries are a great alternative. In fact, frozen berries may even be better for you.
Research from South Dakota State University, has found that ice crystals formed during freezing disrupt the structure of the berry’s plant tissue, making the antioxidants that are present more available to the body.
This is great news, especially when fresh berries are too expensive or simply out of season.
5. Which berry is best?
While wild blueberries often get top spot for their antioxidant content, all berries are antioxidant superstars, and eating a wide variety is probably ideal.
Organic berries, if you can afford them, are also a good choice as they’re higher in antioxidants than regular berries.
6. A cup daily for brain health
I recommend consuming at least one cup of berries every single day. Top your cereal with them, mix them into yogurt, or whip them into smoothies or shakes.
Enjoy them in fruit salads or leafy green salads. Add them to whole grain muffins or pancakes. Have them at snack time or for dessert. Your brain and your body will thank you!
Strawberries With Balsamic Vinegar, Basil & Lemon Zest
Most often I enjoy my berries plain, just as they are. Sometimes, however, it’s fun to dress them up, especially when you have company coming or want something a little fancier.
This recipe is fast, simple, and so fresh. Serve the berries along with a small scoop of low fat frozen yogurt or add a dollop of low fat sour cream on top. Enjoy!
4 cups (2 pints) strawberries, chopped
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) maple syrup
½ tsp (2.5 mL) grated lemon peel (zest)
¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground pepper
Please note: Serves 4. You can also use a combination of berries rather than just strawberries (just know that strawberries and balsamic vinegar are an especially wonderful combination).
- Placed chopped berries and basil in a medium size bowl.
- Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and combine with berries.
- Let sit at least one half hour before serving.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 cup/250 mL): 60 calories, .5 g fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 10 g sugars, 3.5 g fibre, 1 g protein, 2 mg sodium
Here are the most important facts about berries: they’re delicious and great for your brain. Make it a priority to eat some every day!
Liz Pearson is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for peanut butter sandwiches and an undying love for chocolate. She’s the author of four books, including two national, award-winning bestsellers. Her newest book, from which the above recipe was taken, is “Broccoli, Love & Dark Chocolate (because food, love and life should be delicious!)” Check her out at www.lizpearson.com.
Photo by Julicious