(NaturalHealth365) Colorful, juicy, and highly nutritious berries offer more to your health than you can imagine. Over the last decade, substantial experimental data indicate that consuming berries protects brain health by preventing brain damage and age-related memory loss. The variety of beneficial compounds in berries not only will reduce the risk of many diseases but also prevent conditions such as stress and depression.
Berries are rich in anthocyanins, which are responsible for the bright hue of the fruit. These compounds also demonstrate potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties along with vitamin C and quercetin. Well known for reducing the risk of diseases, berries have gained popularity for their ability to improve cognitive function and memory in both animal models and humans.
A recent study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism showed that blueberries, in particular, can support brain health and improve brain function in older adults.
Perfect food supports brain health, strength and vitality
Most berries are particularly high in a subclass of flavonoids called anthocyanidins, a phytonutrient that can cross the blood-brain barrier. These compounds seep into the brain tissues and localize in the hippocampus part of the brain (areas of learning and memory). Anthocyanidins are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that effectively combat oxidative stress and inflammation – two important components of cognitive impairment.
A 2012 study that observed the rate of cognitive decline in older adults found that higher intake of flavonoid-rich berries reduced cognitive decline rates. Researchers of this study concluded that increasing berries’ consumption could be a potential strategy for maintaining cognitive function. Interestingly enough, anthocyanin works in synergy with quercetin to prevent age-related memory loss.
A powerful way to clear away toxins in the brain naturally
A research report presented at the 2013 Experimental Biology revealed that berries protected against radiation – in a study on mice. Based on the study findings, researchers reported that the brains of rats exposed to radiation were protected from damage and accelerated aging when fed with berries for a period of two months.
According to the researchers, the interesting finding of this study was that the berries could activate the brain’s natural ‘clean-up’ mechanisms called autophagy. Autophagy is the natural process of the brain to clear out the accumulated toxins.
However, as we age, this mechanism declines, thereby causing memory loss. This finding is of significance as most brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are due to an increased accumulation of toxic protein. Berries can promote autophagy to reduce accumulation and prevent memory and other age-related cognitive declines.
But wait … there’s more good news about this delicious fruit
When it comes to the total antioxidant levels – berries are a winner. One cup of wild blueberries gives us about 13,400 total antioxidants – vitamin A, C, quercetin, and anthocyanidins; nearly 10 times the USDA’s recommendation for antioxidants.
Cranberries contain about 8,900 total antioxidants, blackberries about 7,700, raspberries 6,000 and strawberries 5,900, and sweet cherries 4,800. Be sure to consume a spectrum of colored berries, purple-blue-red-orange, to get the most of the antioxidants.
Of course, berries are super convenient, can be eaten raw, and make for a healthy ‘on-the-go’ snack. Tossed into a green salad, they improve the nutritional value of the recipe and help to spruce up the color, flavor, and texture of the meal. Being versatile, berries can be added to porridge, pancakes, yogurt, or a sprinkle over coconut ice cream. (yummy!)
Obviously, spring is the best time to enjoy a variety of berries, with the season peak starting in mid-May. You can also buy berries from your local farm in large quantities, clean and freeze them to be used for later months. Naturally, be sure to choose organic berries to avoid unwanted pesticides and other toxins.
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