Boost Brain Power with berries

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a presentation on "Understanding the Link Between Diet and Cognitive Decline" at the Food Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE).

In this presentation, researchers discussed the MIND diet. The MIND diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet. The only noticeable difference is that the MIND diet emphasizes consuming berries and green leafy vegetables daily. One of my Registered Dietitian colleagues asked why berries are the only fruit recommended in the MIND diet. The presenter replied that berries are the only fruit with an evidence-based link to improved cognitive health. Then the presenter responsibly stated that other fruits are very good for us in other ways, but berries are the one fruit that enhances brain function. Therefore, those following the MIND diet consume berries every day.

Berries are Anthocyanin-rich foods, and anthocyanin-rich foods may benefit memory and overall brain health. Anthocyanins are bioactive compounds that give berries rich purple, blue, and red colors. Anthocyanins are also in vegetables with these colorful pigments. Research learned that grade school students experienced increased cognitive function six hours after eating berries. Anthocyanins also have a neuroprotective effect that may defend against cognitive decline in older adults.

Additionally, anthocyanins from berries can stabilize or 'Clean up' Free Radicals, preventing oxidative damage in our bodies. Lastly, anthocyanins may improve lipid profiles and platelet function and have vasorelaxation properties.

Besides being good for you, berries are easy to include in your diet. You can add berries to your morning yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal. They are great as a side to any meal or snack at any time of the day. I can usually find berries priced reasonably at most grocery stores, and when they are too expensive, I will head to the freezer aisle and grab some frozen berries.