Mums don’t always know best

Snacking is bad for you. Does this phrase sound familiar? Course it does because we’ve all been force-fed it since way back when. It still rings around my skull like a bad headache each time I reach for the fridge. Well get this: science tells us that snacking on some foods can do more good than harm, as it can improve brain power. Feel cheated now don’t you? Well before you kick off, read below to get your facts straight.

Firstly, credit where its due for the scientists of Reading University. It was these talented folk who realised that the plant chemicals in blueberries have a habit of getting up close and personal with nerve cells (neurones). This then enhances communication between neurones and stimulates regeneration. The fall-out? A boost in short and long term memory.

And it’s not just blueberries. You can throw the likes of strawberries, grapes, chocolate, tea and soya beans into the mix too. So what else makes them a cut above? Well they all contain plant pigments called flavonoids, which even sound impressive. They act as antioxidants in the body which do all the dirty work of mopping up the chemicals that damage cells.

There’s more up their sleeve too. As well as boosting memory, they can reduce blood cholesterol and lower the risks of cancer, asthma, osteoporosis and heart disease. Maybe it’s why low heart disease rates amongst the French is connected to all the red wine they sup.

See both these sites for the research:
http://www.reading.ac.uk/food/about/news/foodnut-news-2009-07.aspx
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/524397

So what future uses can these flavonoids be pencilled in for? Helping people with dementia? Alzheimer’s maybe? Whatever it is, someone somewhere will be getting on with it as we speak.

Realise the health benefits of food as:

  • psychologist testing memory or other mental abilities in people eating different foods
  • neuroscientist examining molecular changes in neurones exposed to certain flavonoids
  • An epidemiologist studying the way diet is related to health, based on studies of large numbers of people
  • dietician advising people how to incorporate beneficial foods into their diet
  • nurse or carer, helping old people dealing with memory loss, and encouraging them to eat beneficial foods
  • pharmacologist developing new drugs to improve memory, based on beneficial plant chemicals
  • food scientist understanding how blueberries become high in flavonoids and breeding varieties with enhanced health benefits

*Antioxidant = any chemical that can counteract the damaging effects of oxygen in tissues.