More great reasons to eat berries!
Summer is in full swing and berry season is here! We all know berries are great for our health as they contain an abundance of antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, potassium and other essential nutrients. But do you know some of the specifics? Read on to find out the five reasons you should be eating more berries today.
Eating berries may help slow age-related memory loss. Researchers found that women with the highest intake of blueberries and/or strawberries showed about one and half to two and half years of delays in cognitive aging; i.e. thinking, remembering, and reasoning. Researchers measured cognitive function in over 16 thousand women as part of the famous Nurses Health Study. They were tested on their recall of the order of words or numbers in a list or highlights of a paragraph. So how many berries should we eat to prevent cognitive decline? The women who ate the most berries were eating a half-cup of blueberries or two half-cup servings of strawberries a week. Now that’s encouraging!
Compounds in blueberries reduce heart disease risk. Anthocyanins are phyto-nutrients found in blueberries and other fruits and vegetables with red, blue and purple pigments. According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers, a phyto-nutrient called pterostilebene is unique to blueberries and may be especially helpful in lowering the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes. The flavonoid anthocyanidin can cross the blood into the brain's hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory.
Berry antioxidants may be effective in normalizing blood lipids and blood pressure. Pterostilebene, mentioned above, is similar to resveratrol, the antioxidant compound in grapes and wine, was found to be more effective in lowering LDL cholesterol than a leading medication prescribed for this purpose.
Blueberries may lead to a smaller waistline. Researchers have also found that blueberries are one way to help reduce belly fat. The study found that rats that ate a diet rich in blueberries lost abdominal fat, the type of fat that correlates to heart disease and diabetes. Blueberries in the diet also correlated to lower cholesterol and improved glucose control, even in diets that weren’t otherwise heart-healthy.
Berries have a long history. Modern science is just beginning to discover what ancient cultures have long known. For example, the blueberry is an indigenous North American species with deep roots in history. In fact, Native Americans gave blueberries to the new settlers, helping them make it through their first winter. Blueberries also have a place in the annals of folk medicine. Their roots were brewed into a tea believed to help relax women during childbirth, and blueberry syrup was thought to be a cure for coughs.