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Blueberry Brain Boosters

Photo: Kathy Patalsky

In the middle of winter, we plow through bags of frozen blueberries from the summer before, adding them to everything from muffins to smoothies. Of course it’s always best to get your nutrients directly from food sources, rather than supplements, whenever possible, and fresh and frozen berries are among the highest in antioxidants. A growing body of research is focused on the potential of these teeny powerhouses to benefit brain health – wild blueberries are packed with natural pigments called anthocyanins, which give the berries their deep-blue color as well as their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power.

What’s the difference between wild and cultivated blueberries? Comparatively, wild berries come from hundreds of different low-bush varieties that occur naturally in the coastal fields and barrens of Maine and Canada. According to researcher Dr. Mary Ann Lila, director of the Plants for Human Health Institute at the University of North Carolina, these wild berries have thrived for more than 10,000 years precisely because of their higher concentration of anthocyanin. The harsher the environment, the more potent the protection, for both the wild berries and the berry eaters.

Whether or not they give your brain a boost, blueberries deliver plenty of essential nutrients with very few calories – here are a few new ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.

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  • Fresh Blueberry Morning Bread 1 of 10
    Fresh Blueberry Morning Bread
    What better way to start your day than with a berry-studded loaf?
    The Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Homemade Blueberry Syrup 2 of 10
    Homemade Blueberry Syrup
    Why settle for the bottled kind when you can make your own rich indigo syrup out of fresh or frozen blueberries? Give your breakfast a boost!
    Simple Bites has the recipe!
  • Lattice-Topped Blueberry Pie in a Jar 3 of 10
    Lattice-Topped Blueberry Pie in a Jar
    Blueberries make divine pies that taste like summer - try individual pies baked in glass jars for a party!
    The Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Cream Cheese Stuffed Waffles with Blueberries 4 of 10
    Cream Cheese Stuffed Waffles with Blueberries
    Blueberries make a perfect topping for pancakes and waffles - try these cream cheese-stuffed waffles - like blueberry cheesecake for breakfast!
    Cheeky Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Peach Blueberry Muffins 5 of 10
    Peach Blueberry Muffins
    Blueberry muffins are a classic breakfast favourite - they do well with added grains and other fruit, such as peaches, too. When using frozen berries, don't thaw them before adding to your muffin batter.
    Patent and the Pantry has the recipe!
  • Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles 6 of 10
    Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles
    Striped blueberry cheesecake popsicles are perfect for parties, after-school snacks, or kids with sore throats.
    The Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Upside-down Maple Blueberry Buttermilk Cake 7 of 10
    Upside-down Maple Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
    This simple mix-together cake couldn't be easier - invert it while it's still warm and the maple-infused blueberries end up on top!
    Dinner with Julie has the recipe!
  • Blueberry Banana Smoothie 8 of 10
    Blueberry Banana Smoothie
    A sippable smoothie is a great way to deliver antioxidants - send it to go in an insulated coffee mug.
    The Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Blueberry Salad with Almonds & Feta 9 of 10
    Blueberry Salad with Almonds & Feta
    Blueberries make a delicious addition to tossed salads! Try this version with cucumbers, almonds and crumbled feta.
    Family Bites has the recipe!
  • Blueberry Cobbler Bars 10 of 10
    Blueberry Cobbler Bars
    Part cookie, part cobbler, these easy squares are simple to make in large batches - cut, wrap and freeze individually to pop into lunch boxes.
    Dinner with Julie has the recipe!

For more recipes, check out Julie’s award-winning blog, Dinner with Julie!
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