Did you know you can slow brain aging by as much as 2.5 years just by making a small change in your diet?
The brain constitutes less than 2% of body weight but may burn up to 50% of the body’s fuel during mental activity, creating a potential firestorm of oxidized free radicals. It goes to reason, therefore, that taking in foods that are high in antioxidants could be highly advantageous to maintaining brain health.
Turns out berries are full of polyphenols, nutrients that possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And a subset of these polyphenols are anthocyanidins—natural blue-purple pigments uniquely and specifically capable of both crossing the blood-brain barrier and localizing inside brain regions involved in learning and memory.
So could eating more strawberries and blueberries – fruits naturally high in anthocyanidins - help prevent dementia?
The short answer? Yes.
The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study followed the cognitive function of more than 16,000 women over 70 years of age, and found that higher, long-term consumption of strawberries and blueberries was associated with significantly slower rates of cognitive decline, even after accounting for other potential confounding factors. And not by a little. By a lot. The magnitude was equivalent to cognitive differences that one might observe in women up to 2.5 years apart in age. In other words, women with higher intake of berries appeared to have delayed cognitive aging by as much as 2.5 years.
In another study, a trial of regular blueberry supplementation in older adults with early memory issues showed improvement in recall and decreased depressive symptoms in as little as 12 weeks.
Please note that all these people were consuming REAL berries.Not berry flavored fruit bits. And none of these findings apply to supplements. There hasn’t been a single study that has shown any kind of cognitive benefit from taking an isolated phytonutrient. In fact, the opposite is true. Whole berries appear to be more effective than individual components in yielding cognitive benefits, showing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
At Step One Foods we care about your whole health.This is why we are so passionate about including only whole food ingredients in all our products. When you see that we include blueberries in our oatmeal, it’s REAL blueberries. Yes, they’re far more expensive than blueberry flavored fruit pieces, but the magic is not in the flavor, it’s in the BLUEBERRY. And why our Strawberry Banana smoothie is full of whole, freeze dried strawberries. Freeze drying maintains all the nutritional benefits of the fruit – including all the anthocyanidins.
Which is why, if you ever visit us when we’re making the smoothie mix, you’ll find that the whole office smells like a strawberry field.
And if the thought of getting out a blender to make a smoothie is not appealing to you, do what I do - simply sprinkle the smoothie mix right over a bowl of yogurt. I also typically throw on a handful of blueberries. Now that's real brain food!