Thursday, August 17, 2006
The Smartest Food.
I'm smart. I like food. So of course I'd be interested in a food that will make me even smarter. AND healthier. Pyschology Today has a great article on why we should all be eating blueberries. Here's a snippet:
There's a revolution going on. And it's not being fought with guns and bombs but with garden-variety fruits and vegetables.
Call it the 'smart-food revolution.' It has to do with the growing body of research showing that everyday produce can function medically to prevent, treat and even cure common diseases.
Many green grocery items contain goodies that can help ward off the diseases of aging, such as cancer and heart disease, and slow down the aging process itself. Some of them can even halt the brain deterioration and memory loss that tends to accompany aging.
All together, the findings suggest that relatively simple diet modifications can slow down the normal process of brain aging and memory impairment. And delicious little blueberries may be the smartest food of all.
At the University of Maine, Dorothea J. Klimis, associate professor of clinical nutrition, started looking at blueberries because of her interest in heart disease and manganese, a trace mineral found in abundance in blueberries.
She found that blueberries have a powerful effect on arteries, keeping them from constricting in response to stress hormones. Constricted arteries can raise blood pressure and bring on cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Her studies suggest that the compounds in blueberries bolster the bioavailability of nitric oxide, an artery relaxer. She is measuring enzymes that aid nitric oxide to see at which point in the chemical process blueberries intervene.
Although the research points to a compound within anthocyanin, Klimis is not interested in singling out specific ingredients. "The food industry is notorious for extracting things and turning them into pills. I promote whole foods. It's probably a synergistic effect within blueberries anyhow."
Smaller, wild blueberries, the "low-bush" variety, are thought to be healthier than cultivated blueberries because they contain more anthocyanin. And frozen berries are just as good as fresh ones.
Like their first cousins the cranberries, blueberries have been shown to suppress urinary tract infections, and to reduce eyestrain, too. "Hippocrates said to use food as medicine," Klimis reports, "but doctors don't do that."