Blueberries Protect Blood Vessels, May Slow Age-Related Mental Decline


Native to North America, blueberries have been part of the human diet for more than 13,000 years, long before they were formally recognized for their healthy and anti-cancer effects. Blueberries are among the best foods you can eat, and I recommend eating them every day. I have created easy, healthy recipes using blueberries, plus non-dairy milk, ground flax seed, and other nutrient-dense, plant-rich foods, that give my patients a variety of ways to enjoy this wonderful fruit.

Since blueberries contain flavonoids and other specific phytochemicals that help protect against vascular instability, I instruct my diabetes and heart disease patients to eat fresh blueberries every day, and to eat frozen blueberries in the wintertime. In my book, The End of Heart Disease, I cite a study that showed a 68 percent increase in blood nitric oxide levels among women who consumed blueberry powder daily for 8 weeks.1 This is beneficial because nitric oxide relaxes and protects blood vessels.

Blueberries are packed with tannins and anthocyanins that have been linked to anti-cancer effects and the prevention–and even reversal–of age-related mental decline. Blueberries have been shown not just to prevent, but actually reverse abnormal physical and mental decline, including coordination and balance, in aged animals.Evidence in humans supports these results. Nine adults in their 70s and 80s with mild memory decline added about two cups of wild blueberry juice to their diet for 12 weeks, and their performance on memory function tests improved compared to the placebo group.3

The flavonoids in blueberries — catechin, epicatechin, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol — are extremely valuable for superior health. And remember, phytochemicals are not optional nutrients; they are essential for the normal function of your immune system.

For a powerful health booster, try this easy recipe, Dr. Fuhrman’s Patriotic Salad. The synergistic punch of blueberries, strawberries, and leafy greens activates phytochemical repair mechanisms that arm our cells against damage from toxins and aging.

The blueberry flax smoothie recipe is another easy recipe using fresh or frozen blueberries, non-dairy milk, and ground flax seeds. Patients tell me that they prefer this to ice cream.

Dr. Fuhrman’s Patriotic Salad

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 6-12 lettuce leaves
  • 1  banana
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup cashews or macadamia nuts

Blend nuts, banana and non-dairy milk to make topping. Arrange berries and lettuce leaves in a bowl. Pour topping over fruit and serve. 

Dr. Fuhrman’s Blueberry Flax Smoothie

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp. flax seeds, ground
  • 5 kale leaves

Blend and enjoy.

 
References
  1. Johnson SA, Figueroa A, Navaei N, et al. Daily blueberry consumption improves blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Acad Nutr Diet 2015, 115:369-377.
  2. Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr 2009, 139:1813S-1817S.
  3. 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.