By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
Fresh organic blueberries are, by far, one of my favorite snacks. The taste alone is enough to have me hooked on these tiny berries. I might even eat them if they were bad for me.
But they aren’t!
As small as blueberries are, you wouldn’t think they would pack much of a punch. But I’m getting a plethora of health benefits every time I munch on them.
Blueberries are jam-packed with a potent class of antioxidants called anthocyanins. One thing anthocyanins are great for is improving insulin sensitivity. They work by protecting the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. They also enhance insulin sensitivity in muscle, fat, liver cells and other vital organs.
This means that eating blueberries can help the body absorb and process blood sugar better. Blueberries can even help reduce blood sugar spikes when you eat them with high glycemic carbohydrates like while bread.
You should also be aware that there is a very strong correlation between high blood sugar and Alzheimer’s disease. Even people in the early stages of Type 2 diabetes can show signs of brain dysfunction. So maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is very important to your brain health.
And blueberries could help!
Blueberries for Your Brain, Heart and More
A group of prediabetic and overweight people experiencing a mild decline in memory were tasked with eating ½ cup of blueberries a day for 12 weeks. Another group took a placebo each day. They were all between the ages of 50 and 65.
During the 12 weeks, cognitive abilities that depend on executive function were measured. This includes things like working memory, flexible thinking and self-control. And as it turns out, the blueberry group showed improvement on tasks the depend on executive control.
They also had better insulin levels and improved mitochondrial uncoupling, a process that reduces oxidative damage.
As a bonus, anthocyanins also stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. This helps boost brain signaling, which can keep your brain younger and smarter as you age. In fact, people who eat the most blueberries are able to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.
Additionally, more oxygen to your brain helps keep your mind more active, alert and focused throughout the day. So snacking on blueberries or enjoying a blueberry smoothie in the late morning could significantly boost your daily brainpower.
Blueberries aren’t just great for your brain and blood sugar. The anthocyanins in these little blue berries help to improve endothelial function, reduce arterial stiffness, improve lipid profile and increase circulating nitric oxide. They also go to work to lower your blood pressure and clear oxidized LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream.
When cholesterol is oxidized, it’s destructive. It rears its ugly head in the form of inflammation that damages your arteries, promotes plaque build-up and restricts blood flow to your heart, brain and other organs.
So blueberries are wonderful for your cardiovascular health.
They are also a great source of fiber. A half cup has about 1.8 grams of it. This won’t fill up your daily balance, but it can certainly help round it out.
And while the jury still isn’t in on this one yet, there is some evidence that anthocyanins have the potential to mop up cancer cells. In preliminary research, it appears that they promote the death of cancer calls, help prevent them spreading and also reduce the invasiveness of cancer.
So yes. These little berries pack an extremely powerful punch!
But if you eat them the wrong way, you could destroy all of the health benefits they offer.
How to Make the Most of Your Blueberries
I’m a blueberry advocate. I advise my patients to eat them whenever they can. I share blueberry information with my friends.
And you know what? Everyone says they love them. They eat them in pancakes, cereals, muffins and jelly preserves.
Well, adding blueberries to processed, refined and sugary foods is a sure-fire way to destroy any health benefit you might get from them. You know that, right?
So eat your blueberries responsibly.
In the evening, I like to combine a cup of organic blueberries with plant-based yogurt. Then I mix in two tablespoons of chia seeds, a few drops of vanilla, a shake or two of cinnamon powder and let it sit overnight. The next day, I have a delicious and healthy blueberry-chia seed pudding waiting for me. Sometimes I go a bit more expansive and add toasted almond halves for the crunch I like.
You can also chuck a small handful in your mouth for a tasty treat throughout the day. Add them to your salads. Blend them into a non-dairy smoothie. Mix them up with other fruits and berries.
The closer you keep them to their natural form, the more benefit you will gain.
An apple or two a day may help keep the doctor away, but a half cup of blueberries a day can help keep age related diseases at bay.
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