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.