If I were to ask you to name some of your favorite summer foods you may first think of barbeque, corn-on-the-cob, and hot dogs. As a nutritarian and health care professional, I look closely at the foods with a high nutrient value on the aggregate nutrient density index (ANDI) and do my best to regularly consume these foods while recommending others to also increase their intake.
Blueberries are a seasonal summer food and also very nutrient dense. They are highly praised for their juicy tartness, jewel-toned hues, and health benefits. These indigo-colored berries are native to North America and are nutrient dense mainly due to their high levels of phytochemicals such as polyphenols and flavonoids. These phytochemicals support a variety of biochemical pathways and body systems. Studies have shown that phytochemicals from blueberries provide cardiovascular benefits by improving blood pressure levels, lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. Phytochemicals have such impressive heart-healthy benefits due to the antioxidant activity on blood fats and blood vessel structure. In other words, the antioxidant activity help to clean up the damage and waste products that naturally occurs on a cellular level. If damage and waste go un-checked for long periods of time, then our risk for chronic disease increases. Therefore it really is important to consume nutrient dense foods such as blueberries! In order to achieve the health results in some of these studies, subjects consumed around 2-3 cups of blueberries (or wild blueberry juice) per day for an extended period of time.
These juicy gems have also been shown in lab and animal studies to improve cognitive functioning such as memory and recall activities. A significant study was published in 2012 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry using wild blueberry juice and placebo beverages on a group of older adults with early stage dementia (which often progresses to Alzheimer’s disease). After 12 weeks, the subjects on the wild blueberry juice showed significant memory improvements with enhanced blood glucose levels and a trend towards improved depression!
“Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients-they are among the best foods you can eat.” – Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
I truly believe you can achieve these incredible benefits if you consume berries regularly! I recommend consuming this incredible fruit in its whole food form regularly during the summertime. I love the whole grain German breads that I toast and spread with almond butter and top with fresh fruit such as blueberries! Buy enough to have extra to store in sealed containers in the freezer. Add frozen blueberries to breakfast foods, fruit desserts, or smoothies. Optimal health is achievable! With a happy healthy lifestyle and enough nutrient dense foods you need not worry about debilitating diseases and disorders. Prevention is KEY! I wish you all the berry best to you and your health!https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/95/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods.
Basu A, Du M, Leyva MJ et al. Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome. The journal of nutrition. Bethesda. 2010: 140:9;1582-1587.
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Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2010: 58; 3996-4000.
Whyte AR, Williams CM Effects of a single dose of a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink on memory in 8 to 10 y old children. Nutrition. 2015: 31(3); 531-4. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.09.013.