Blueberry boost for our brains
The New Zealand blueberry industry is poised for growth as science edges closer to conclusively proving that blueberries are able to benefit cognitive and mental health across the lifespan.
Professor Claire Williams, Chair of Neuroscience in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, UK visiting for the launch event of Blueberries NZ says her latest research investigating the short-term effects of blueberries on cognitive performance in older adults is currently going through peer review and should be published in the coming months.
This important research has shown that a single serving of blueberries early in the day in healthy older adults helps to maintain their cognitive performance through the rest of the day.
Blueberries New Zealand Chairman Dan Peach says this is great news for consumers and also the industry in New Zealand.
“As the science community continues to study our fruit, and the health benefits are verified, we expect shoppers to take action and buy more regularly. Last summer New Zealand families bought fresh blueberries around 3.5 times each, meaning each household consumed an average volume of 730g,” he says.
Professor Williams has other research underway that is due out later this year looking at the effects of four weeks daily consumption of blueberries on mood. This work, a follow-up to an acute study (Khalid et al, 2017) showing that blueberries given to both young adults and 7-10 year old children can produce boosts in positive mood two hours after consumption, has shown that blueberries can help to induce better mood in adolescents. This work is currently being written up for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
The Blueberries New Zealand Season Launch also featured their popular ambassador, Eliza McCartney. The young pole vault champion has now been ambassador for Blueberries New Zealand for three years in a row – an easy choice for her as blueberries are her favourite berry, not only due to taste but also the broad range of nutritional benefits they offer.
More New Zealanders are developing a keen awareness of the nutritional power these little berries hold, with almost half of all households purchasing fresh blueberries last year.
Did you know?
Fresh, New Zealand-grown blueberries are a nutrition powerhouse packed with antioxidants and a range of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Available now on shelves around the country, blueberries are the perfect snack at any time of the day. They contain higher antioxidant levels than just about every other fruit and vegetable and have one of the lowest sugar contents of all fruits.
Blueberries are low in fat and sodium, contain phytonutrients and are an excellent source of vitamin C, fibre and manganese. The fruit plays a vital role in promoting overall good health, particularly when it comes to gut health, anti-ageing, brain health and heart disease.
Blueberries are now available all year round, and in abundance from December until March.