September 24, 2010

This overlooked
chemical in blueberries can protect your brain

You've probably heard that blueberries are great for your eyes. It's a known fact that blueberries do indeed protect your eyes. But new research suggests they also can protect your brain function.

This makes complete sense to me. Blueberries, my favorite berry, are very effective at protecting your retinal cells. But did you know that retinal cells are really brain cells? It's true. Now if blueberries can protect your retina, they should also protect your brain, right? This new study says "yes."

The Journal of Agricultural Chemistry recently published this small study on several older folks. Each of them drank a couple cups (two to three) of blueberry juice every day. This was the first study of its kind in humans. Each of the participants improved their scores on learning and memory tests over three months. And the improvement was dramatic. Their scores went up, on average, by 20%. This confirmed previous observations by the research team on animal memory. Additionally, they found improved glucose tolerance and fewer symptoms of depression.

Blueberries contain the powerful polyphenol anthocyanin. Research has shown that your brain incorporates these molecules into the brain structures involved with memory. Neurons can communicate easier with these molecules. Also, neurons become more resistant to stress. Other studies on anthocyanins from grape juice have shown them to help memory. Anthocyanins have strong anti-inflammatory properties!

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Action to take: I've repeatedly urged readers to eat more berries. I consider blueberries a "superfood," as I do blackberries and even strawberries. However, please be sure to eat only organic berries. Conventional strawberries have large of amounts of pesticides and herbicides in them.

I'm fortunate enough to know a blueberry farmer. Each summer I get over 100 pounds from him. Then I bag and freeze what I can't eat fresh. I admit when I eat them in winter, they are not fresh. But frozen blueberries do keep well. And they retain most of their nutrients. You can find frozen organic berries at Costco!

As you may know, it can take a lot of these plant chemicals to really protect yourself. That's why supplements are necessary. But with blueberries, it's easy to get enough straight from the fruit. Every morning, I blend up one pound into my morning smoothie. Not only is it yummy, but it's also super rich in anthocyanins and other wonderful nutrients!

If you don't like blueberries or just want additional protection, Advanced Bionutritionals Advanced Memory Formula contains blueberry and many other nutrients that will help your memory and your eyesight.

Ref: J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (7).

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