Believe it or not, beautiful blueberries are beneficial for your blood pressure, your brain, and your baby blues!
All of these health-enhancing effects appear to stem from the berries' high flavonoid content and powerful antioxidant properties.
In particular, blueberries are extraordinarily rich in anthocyanins, which are flavonoid pigments that provide color to many fruits and vegetables and have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In one study, British researchers found that those with the highest intake of anthocyanins (predominantly from blueberries and strawberries) had an 8 percent lower blood pressure than those with the lowest intake. Researchers think that the anthocyanins protect against high blood pressure by promoting the release of nitric oxide, the chemical in arterial walls that keeps the blood vessels relaxed and dilated.
Those blood-pressure friendly flavonoids also appear to protect your aging eyes and brain.
At one anti-aging conference I attended, a research ophthalmologist proclaimed that, when it comes to protecting your retina, blueberry pigments have even more antioxidant potential than the more common resource—marigold flower (lutein)—used to prevent macular degeneration. And other research on aging rats showed that those consuming blueberries in their feed had a lower rate of memory decline. The blueberry diet also reversed memory loss. It was speculated that the flavonoids in the blueberries probably helped brain cells communicate better.
Eating blueberries several times a week is simple to do, since you can work them into just about any meal.
Take breakfast, for instance. Try a morning shake of blueberries with organic yogurt and crushed flax. Throw a heaping handful of blueberries into your cereal bowl. Eat them along side your omelet. Or include them in your waffles or pancakes as in the recipe below. (Get more heart-healthy recipes.)
Organic wild blueberries are best because they are cultivated without toxic chemicals, so try to get them whenever you can. And don't discount dried blueberries in a pinch—especially for a snack. Dried fruit, in general, is an excellent source of fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and complex carbohydrates.
Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup other whole-grain flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 cups soy milk or water
- 2 egg whites
- 1 Tbsp. light olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- ½ cup blueberries
Stir the dry ingredients together. Add the soy milk, egg whites, oil, and honey. Mix briefly. Add the blueberries and stir gently. Cook on a hot griddle, lightly oiled with olive oil.
Makes 14 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories 90, Total Fat 2 g, Sodium 30 mg, Carbs 14 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 4 g
WATCH: Dr. Sinatra's Top 12 Healing Foods
Video courtesy of HeartMDInstitute