One of the benefits of a balanced diet is that it keeps not only your body but also your brain healthy.
As a Certified Nutritionist, I am often asked about whether fruit should be included in a balanced diet. Many people mistakenly believe that they should avoid eating fruit because it contains fructose, which is sugar. What I tell them is that a healthy, balanced diet, definitely includes fruit. It will not give you a sugar rush followed by a crash, like a donut, because it comes in a fibrous package that your body has to break down to digest. While your body is working, it is extracting healthy nutrients, keeping you feeling full and burning calories.
A Balanced Diet Should Definitely Include Blueberries
For the last 15 years, there’s been a barrage of research demonstrating a cornucopia of health benefits derived from this unusually colored fruit. Antioxidant rich blueberries have been christened a superfood and labeled one of world’s healthiest foods.
According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, blueberry consumption grew nearly 50% from 2010 to 2015, and is projected to increase another 25% over the next four years. Undoubtedly, the health halo effect is in play.
The Health Benefits of a Balanced Diet that Includes Blueberries
But, how much do you really know about the health benefits of blueberries?
A researcher at the University of Florida was curious, so he conducted a survey of 2,000 people in 31 states. He discovered that most of the participants were aware that consuming blueberries is associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and warding off cancer. However, they were uninformed of some of the other proven benefits of this nutrient powerhouse, including lessening the effects of bone loss and improving vision.
Just last year new research uncovered yet another compelling reason to eat a steady diet of blueberries.
Blueberries Help Fight Alzheimer’s Disease
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.4 million Americans are currently suffering from this disease, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Age is the biggest risk factor for the development of a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.
New Research shows that blueberries improve memory in older adults. This 2016 study conducted at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center tested 47 adults aged 68 and older who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to the disease. The study participants were given either blueberry powder (in an amount corresponding to a cup of blueberries) or a placebo, once a day for 16 weeks.
According to Robert Krikorian, the lead researcher, “The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts.” He noted that this study corroborated previous animal studies and opined that blueberries’ beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve animals’ cognition.
Unusual Ways to Enjoy Blueberries
We typically eat blueberries in salads or smoothies or with our morning Greek yogurt. Blueberries are now popping up in all kinds of products. Here are some innovative ways from the Blueberry Store to increase your blueberry consumption. The website also includes recipes.
• Blueberry mustard
• Blueberry balsamic ketchup
• Blueberry BBQ sauce
• Blueberry beef jerky
• Blueberry sausage