Round, sweet, and juicy, blueberries are a great snack. They are even called a super food. So, are blueberries good for your brain? The short answer is yes! Read on to find out more.
What is in a blueberry?
Blueberries are full of nutrients and vitamins. In just one serving, you can get almost 16% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. (USDA, 2020) Your body needs Vitamin C to grow and repair the tissues of your body, including myelin. Myelin acts as a sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers in your brain. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants work to block and prevent the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are created when your body is exposed to certain substances like tobacco smoke and radiation, and are created even when your body is breaking down foods. Free radicals can cause damage to the cells in your body and trigger many diseases.
Anthocyanin is a flavonoid. A flavonoid is a group of plant chemicals that work to regulate cell activity and act as antioxidants. Anthocyanin has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Anthocyanin is also responsible for the beautiful, rich, blue color of the blueberries.
Manganese is a mineral that is essential for your body and for strong brain function. Manganese binds to neurotransmitters in your brain and helps your brain to work more efficiently. Additionally, your body only needs very small amounts of manganese. Blueberries provide just the right amount!
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps several different proteins to activate in the brain. This means that until Vitamin K comes along, these proteins just sit inactive. While Vitamin K is mostly known for helping blood to clot, recent studies have shown that it can help prevent brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. It can also help to prevent strokes.
As we age, some of the immune cells in our brain called, microglia, are constantly inflamed. That is one of the reasons that our memory gets worse as we get older. That’s where dietary fiber comes in. Dietary fiber stimulates good, gut bacteria growth. When these good bacteria break down dietary fiber, butyrate is one of the byproducts. Butyrate is a short-chain-fatty-acid that has been shown to prevent the inflamed immune cells from creating damaging chemicals in our brains. The best way to increase butyrate is by eating more dietary fiber. Blueberries are a great source of dietary fiber.
One serving of blueberries is one cup. One cup of raw blueberries has 84 calories and 21 grams of carbohydrates. It has almost 4 grams of fiber per cup and 1 gram of protein. Each cup of blueberries provides 14.4mg of Vitamin C. Even though a serving of blueberries has 15 grams of sugar, it has a low glycemic index score. The glycemic index gives you an estimate of how carbohydrates will affect blood glucose levels. This index is provided to provide some guidelines on how to manage blood sugar throughout the day. Blueberries have a low glycemic index score, which means they are less likely to cause blood sugar to spike up.
How to eat blueberries
Blueberries are low in calorie and rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Eating blueberries on a regular basis can help improve your brain function. So, what are some good ways to eat blueberries?
Types of blueberries
Blueberries come in more ways than one. Here are some of the many ways that you can buy them:
- Fresh-You can find these in the produce section of your grocery store or from April-July at your local farmer’s market. Fresh blueberries are good for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
- Frozen-Check the freezer section at your grocery store, or freeze some blueberries yourself! Frozen blueberries are good for six months in the freezer.
- Dried-Dried blueberries are usually in the snack section of the store. You can eat them in trail mix, a salad, or by themselves.
- Canned-Canned blueberries are perfect for a pie or a tart! Look in the canned fruit section to find these.
- Juice-Blueberry juice is great by itself or to use for popsicles and custom drinks. Blueberry juice can be found in the cold and shelf stable juice sections of your grocery store.
Healthy Blueberry Breakfast Bars
There are many ways to cook blueberries-pies, muffins, tarts, cakes, oatmeal, jams, salads (and the list could go on and on,) but one easy and tasty treat is the No Bake Blueberry Breakfast Bars. These bars can be used for breakfast, a snack, or even for dessert!
- 2 cups of blueberries
- 1 cup of oats
- 1 cup of pecan pieces
- ¼ cup of chia seeds
- ½ cup of peanut butter
- ¼ cup of honey
How to make
- Line an 8×8 pan with wax paper or foil. If you line the pan with foil, spray it thoroughly with cooking spray. Leave just enough wax paper or foil to hang over the edges.
- In a food processor or a blender, combine 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of oats, 1 cup of pecan pieces, ¼ cup of chia seeds, ½ cup of peanut butter, and ¼ cup of honey. Pulse the mixture until it is sticky.
- Gently fold in the remaining 1 cup of blueberries into the mixture by hand.
- Spread the mixture into the pan evenly.
- Cover and refrigerate for two hours before serving to set.
- When removing the bars, grab the edges of the foil or wax paper and pull the whole piece out for an easy way to slice and serve.
- Bars can be cut into 16 or 24 pieces.
Easy Blueberry Banana Smoothie
If you are looking for a quick breakfast or snack, look no further. This blueberry smoothie is creamy and delicious.
- 1 cup of vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup of blueberries
- ½ banana
- ¼ cup of milk
- 1 tsp. honey, optional
How to make
- Place the yogurt, blueberries, banana, milk, and ice into the blender.
- Blend the mixture until it is smooth.
- Then, taste! If you would like it to be a little sweeter, add in one teaspoon of honey.
These are just a couple of snacks you can make with the brain powering blueberry! We know you’ll come up with more delicious treats!