Eat Blueberries, Remember Stuff!

I love antioxidants! We already know that antioxidants perform an important role in our bodies by neutralizing harmful free radicals. But did you know that certain foods that contain these antioxidants may have very specific healthful effects on the body and mind? Some evidence has shown that a diet rich in blueberry extract may improve short-term memory. Now that's something I can use. I'll try to remember to eat more of 'em!

A recent USDA study done on aging rats to be published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience offers some support for the consumption of blueberries. The findings suggest that the consumption of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants (including our little blue buddies) can help fight the dysfunctions and diseases associated with aging. Researchers fed extracts of blueberry, strawberry or spinach to rats and all three extracts improved short-term memory. The blueberry extract also improved balance and coordination.

What else can blueberries do? Well, possibly quite a bit. Although additional research is needed, blueberries may lower the risk of some cancers and promote urinary tract health. They may also improve vision, clean arteries, strengthen blood vessels, and promote weight control. Time and additional human studies may help strengthen these claims about blueberry benefits. Many of these health benefits are attributed to photochemicals found in blueberries such as anthocyanins and phenolics. Blueberries can be taken in the form of an extract (pill) or as fresh fruit, of course. Both should contain the ever-important phytonutrients and both should offer similar benefits. When taken in the dietary supplement form, the product should contain extracts standardized with both anthocyanins and pterostilbene. Many times the blueberry extracts will be found as part of a combination product with other fruit and vegetable extracts.

Personally, I can offer purely subjective data that blueberries do improve my memory. I have no objective data to support that assertion. There are many uncontrollable variables that would prevent me from keeping a log or record that would be of any significant value. Nonetheless, I know that many benefits from eating healthy foods such as blueberries are subtle and insidious. There is a long term benefit and not immediate gratification. I have faith in the blues. Time and additional research will hopefully prove once and for all that blueberries have specific benefits in humans. Fortunately for me, I find nothing tastier for a late night snack than some fat free cottage cheese mixed with a big handful of blueberries! I will benefit from the snack whether or not additional research proves it's really good for my brain.

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