Sunday, July 14, 2019

Berries for Brain Health

Summertime is a great time for fresh berries.  Go to your local Farmer’s Market and buy some blueberries, strawberries or raspberries.  Growing up my grandfathers grew raspberries so we often had fresh berries to eat.  Later, my father-in-law started a berry farm and grew strawberries and raspberries.  Berries are especially good fresh from the farm.  Not only are berries a tasty summer treat, they are also good for your health.  Berries offer a lot of health benefits, including being good for your brain.  

Which berries promote brain health?
                Strawberries, mulberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, black currants (also grapes)

How do berries promote healthy brains?
          Color – the color of fruit is important as each color contains healthy antioxidants.  The red, blue and purple color of berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries provide anthocyanins.  (Grapes also provide this healthy substance.) This substance can cross into the brain and decrease inflammation, cell damage and may even improve brain-nerve function.  

Can eating berries slow aging of your brain?
                A study of 16,000 women nurses found eating a half-cup of berries 2 or more times a week helped prevent mental decline as shown by testing memory and cognitive function.

Which is better, fresh berries, juice, dried or frozen?
                Most nutritionists and health professionals would recommend fresh berries as there is little fiber in juice.  However, those anthocyanins survive juicing so a glass of juice would also provide health benefits.  And frozen or dried berries are OK as they retain the healthy antioxidants.  So when not in season, still enjoy frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries.  These are especially good in smoothies.  My husband likes to put frozen blueberries in pancakes.  

Looking for some ways to add berries to your day?  Check out the US Highbush Blueberry Council as they offer numerous recipes and ideas for incorporating blueberries into your day.   Try the Balanced Blueberry Smoothie, the Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, or the Blueberry Trail Mix.  The California Strawberry Commission offers a wealth of strawberry recipes including recipes for desserts, smoothies, salads, breakfast and main dishes.  
Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie
This week visit a farmer’s market or buy some fresh berries at your local store.  Enjoy the taste and improve your brain health.
Strawberry Cucumber Salad

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries, rinsed
1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup ice cubes
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
Blend until smooth.  Makes 2 glasses. 

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