Blueberries: Brain Food

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 @ 05:02 AM Bree West
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blueberries_brain_food_imageThe blueberry is a member of the Ericaceae family, as are most berries, including huckleberries and bilberries, which are both varieties of the blueberry. Blueberries grow in clusters and can be as small as a pea to about the size of a marble, with a range in color from a deep blue to a deep purple. And blueberries that are cultivated usually have a sweeter taste than blueberries that grow in the wild.

Blueberries are native to many parts of the world, but grow especially well in the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia. The consumption of blueberries goes back as far as the beginning of mankind. Native Americans were particularly fond of blueberries because they were a key ingredient in their traditional dish called pemmican. Blueberries didn’t start to be developed commercially until the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, blueberries still grow wild in the wooded and mountainous regions of the United States and Canada, but don’t grow wild much at all anymore in Europe.

The health benefits blueberries have are primarily due to their flavonoid (antioxidant) content. In fact, researchers found that out of sixty fruits and vegetables tested for their antioxidant capability, blueberries rated the highest of them all. And most potent of all the antioxidants are the anthocyanidins. This strong antioxidant has been shown to significantly help protect again Alzheimer’s disease by protecting the brain from oxidative damage and therefore helping to decrease age-related conditions. Because this antioxidant helps to protect the brain, it also helps improve learning capability, motor skills, and memory. Scientist who researched this found that subjects who had been given blueberries had improved mental capacities; blueberries helped the brain cells to communicate more effectively.

Also primarily due to the anthocyanidin content, blueberries are a great food for helping improve vision and protect the eyes from macular degeneration. This is not a new idea. Back in World War II, the British Air Force pilots consumed bilberry preserves before their night missions to improve their ability to see at night. Studies have since shown that bilberries do in fact improve night vision and decrease the time needed for eyes to adjust to darkness, as well as quicker recovery of clear vision after being exposed to glare. Research is also showing that blueberries and bilberries help to prevent against cataracts and glaucoma.

wild_blueberries_improve_vision_picBlueberries might also help to prevent varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and peptic ulcers. They have been used for years as a remedy for diarrhea and constipation because blueberries are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which help to regulate the gastrointestinal tract and promote regularity. In addition, blueberries have tannins that act as astringents in the digestive system meaning they help to firm up loose stool. Blueberries also help maintain a healthy urinary tract because they have the same compounds as cranberries that help to prevent or get rid of urinary tract infections. To cause infections, bacteria have to stick to the lining of the urethra and bladder, and compounds in blueberries decrease the ability of these bacteria to stick, thus helping to prevent and treat urinary tract infections.

Blueberries are an excellent source of flavonoids (antioxidants), especially anthocyanidins, and a great source of vitamins C and E, manganese, riboflavin, and fiber (both soluble and insoluble). When buying blueberries, choose ones that are firm and have a uniform color distribution. Avoid berries that are dull in color, too soft, or deteriorated. They should also be moisture-free, as water will cause blueberries to decay quickly.

Raw Blueberry Cheesecake


  • 2 Cups Slivered Almonds
  • 1 Cup Pre-Soaked Dates
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Zest of 1/2 a Lemon
  • Juice of 1/2  a Lemon
  • 2 1/3 Cups Pre-Soaked Cashews
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar, Maple Syrup or Honey
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1/2 Cup Blueberries (Extra for topping – fresh or thawed frozen blueberries for the top is really pretty)
  • 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar, Maple Syrup or Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil

Get the directions at

Bree West

About Bree West

Bree West is a holistic nutrition and exercise specialist who is exceptionally passionate about what she does! She obtained a B.S. in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University as well as a B.S. in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College. Additionally, she spent several months interning in L.A. with Athlete’s Performance (now EXOS) gaining valuable experience training athletes of all ages and sports, as well as learning how to treat and prevent pain and injuries. Bree also holds various certifications, including NASM CPT. Her main interest is combining true nutrition with proper exercise to not only help others achieve their fitness goals, but to reach and maintain optimal health! She specializes in functional strength training, athletic performance enhancement, fat loss, natural and sports nutrition (emphasizing clean, wholesome, real foods eating), injury prevention, and corporate wellness. She loves training the athlete in YOU!

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