Posted on Apr 15, 2020, 6 p.m.
Purple berries may well be the most common globally accessible and longest used nootropics of them all; these potent fruits are part of the family of edible berries characterized by their purple-ish pigment and include blueberries, blackberries, bilberries, acai berries, maqui berries, elderberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries which are all known for their impressive brain boosting benefits.
People have been eating berries long before we knew much about medicine as an important source of energy, now we know there is a lot to this group of foods such as the important antioxidants group of flavonoids. Most berries contain many types of these beneficial compounds, but purple berries are rich in anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are unstable and break down easily, and the body is only able to absorb a small percentage of what is consumed, thus to maximize the anti-aging benefits from anthocyanins it is best to obtain the most nutrient dense sources available. Typically the easiest way to identify these is to look for natural foods with the darkest and most vibrant colours for these high antioxidant sources. When these are digested the anthocyanins have been found to cross the blood brain barrier and travel directly to the hippocampus where they can have a beneficial impact on memory as well as learning.
Beneficial antioxidant properties are not the only thing offered by anthocyanin rich berries. “It’s not only the antioxidant capacity that’s important; it’s their anti-inflammatory capacities, as well as their direct effects on the brain,” Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale of Tufts University in Boston explained. “In one of our studies, we found that blueberries and strawberries increased neurogenesis, which is the process of making new neurons in the brain...and we also saw changes in signaling and communication in the brain—the positive signals go up while the negative signals go down. So we think that antioxidants are important, but it’s not the whole story.”
It is not clear as to every aspect of what makes these purple berries so advantageous to cognitive health, but studies have revealed that improvements in the brain can occur rather quickly when they are incorporated into our diets such as one study of elderly people who experienced improved memory after following a healthy diet that included blueberries for 3 months that was conducted by Dr. Shukitt-Hale.
Dr. Paual Brickford of the Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa Florida has also conducted studies revealing that diets rich in blueberries can offer protection against cellular damage from oxidative stress, decrease inflammation of the brain, and in general enhance the health of brain cells overall.
Other research has revealed that blueberry consumption can help to improve motor skills such as balance, coordination, fluid intelligence, cognition skills, and memory. These benefits are not just reserved for later in life either as research has shown that children between the ages of 7-10 continued to improve memory and problem solving abilities proportional to the amount of purple berries they ate; and eating more blueberries was concluded to result in higher test scores.
Berries are delicious and make great snacks or additions to many meals such as in smoothies, salads, breakfast and desserts. They freeze nicely and can be freeze dried to be used in powders or a variety of recipes as the nutrients of the berries are retained in the freezing process. When exposed to heat for long periods of time the anthocyanin content is reduced but is not completely lost. However, the anthocyanin content in cooked berries continues to decrease the longer it sits, so it is best to consume them as soon as possible, and uncooked preferred.
Purple berries are heart protective as well as help to improve blood circulation which can also help with the management of diabetes, protect bone strength, increase longevity, detoxify heavy metals, fight obesity, and they are also carcinoprotective.
To sum it up, in addition to tasting yummy purple berries can help to improve problem solving skill, learning, memory, thought fluidity, balance, coordination, focus, alertness, enhance potential for neurogenesis, and are highly neuroprotective with antioxidant anti-aging protective properties.
Materials provided by:
Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.