You know I hate the term “superfood”; but occasionally, some foods come close to living up to the hype and blueberries have to top the list.
Multiple studies have shown that making blueberries a regular part of your diet reduces your risk of
- cardiovascular disease
- various cancers
- type two diabetes
New Study On The Benefits of Blueberries
A recent study lends even more strength to the case that we should all be eating more of them.
This study is especially compelling because it’s a randomized, controlled crossover study. Randomized control trials are always the gold standard in evidence, and a cross over design even more so because we see the effect repeated in both groups at different times.
Both groups were essentially fed a standard IHOP style breakfast that included a drink with the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries, or a placebo that tasted similar and had similar calories. the researchers then tested postprandial insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as asking participants to complete a cognitive task.
Both groups showed better insulin and glucose response after the real blueberry drink as well as performing better on the cognitive task.
Some Caveats About This Study
Despite the overall strength of this study, I think there are a few caveats worth considering; mainly the shitty breakfast. Would the study participants have seen as much benefit from the blueberry drink if they hadn’t eaten a meal so high in processed carbs to begin with? It might be tempting to assume that they would have seen even better results, but other research seems to indicate that while some of these so-called “superfoods” can help do damage control, the benefits are much less pronounced when the overall diet quality is already high.
One cup of fresh blueberries is about 18g of effective carbohydrates, so if you’re on a very low carbohydrate diet, you may have to avoid them.
The evidence is already becoming well established that cognition (and conversely cognitive decline) is intimately intertwined with metabolic health. Many researchers and neurologists like Dr. David Perlmutter already refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “type three diabetes” or “diabetes of the brain”.
With this in mind, I’d love to see this study repeated with a meal that kept postprandial blood glucose levels in a more ideal range to begin with so we could see if the boost in cognitive performance was really a boost at all, or if the IHOP style breakfast caused more of a decline due to an excessive blood sugar, and insulin spike which the blueberry drink helped to balance out.
Metabolic Health Matters
In the “Age of Krona” metabolic health is more important than ever. High fasting blood sugar is one of the strongest predictors of negative outcomes at the time of admission, and likely plays a key role (along with blood pressure, blood lipids, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium status) in whether we even become symptomatic to begin with.
Considering all the benefits they have to offer: potent antioxidant activity that protects against both cancer and cardiovascular disease, improved blood sugar and insulin levels, swapping out your usual carbohydrate for a stiff serving of blueberries seems like a smart investment.