All About Anxiety

Blueberries: Superfood & Anxiety Buster

Blueberries have gained notoriety in recent years as a superfood, and while the term superfood is sometimes tossed around loosely, these sapphire snacks truly are deserving of it. Read on to learn how they can reduce your stress and anxiety levels as well as supercharge your health.

Nutritional powerhouses, each blueberry packs a wallop of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and polyphenols. This makes them beneficial to the entire human organism, strengthening body and mind.

Let’s start by taking a look at what the Vitamin C in blueberries can do for us.

Humans are entirely dependent on getting Vitamin C from their diet, as unlike most animals, we are unable to synthesize our own [1] This vitamin plays a vital role in the maintenance of both our physical and mental well-being. As an essential vitamin, it is vital for a range of bodily functions ranging from supporting immune function and bone maintenance to aiding wound healing and maintaining balanced neurotransmitters levels [2].

Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to reduce subjective and objective measures of stress in double-blind, placebo clinical trials [3.4] Without adequate dietary intake, both body and mind are adversely affected. Consequences range from excess anxiety and weight gain to poor mood and immunity [5]. A single serving of blueberries provides 24% of the recommended daily Vitamin C intake, making them a convenient way to reap the benefits of this crucial nutrient.

Blueberries are also a rich source of Vitamin K, another vitamin critical to mental and physical well-being. Benefits of getting optimal levels of Vitamin K range from preventing heart disease, cancer and osteoarthritis to maintaining brain health and mood [6]. This vitamin allows the body to produce unique fats called sphingolipids which are an important component of all cells, especially those found throughout the nervous system [7].

As such, it’s not surprising that eating a diet rich in Vitamin K is associated with cognitive benefits such as reduced anxiety levels and increased verbal fluency [8, 9]. Conversely, getting inadequate amounts of this essential nutrient is associated with reduced spatial learning, low mood, excess anxiety and even damage to some regions of the brain [7]. With each serving of blueberries packing an impressive 36% of the recommended Vitamin K daily intake, snacking on them is a simple way to reap these impressive benefits.

Finally, what truly elevates blueberries to the upper superfood echelons is their polyphenol content. Polyphenols are the phytonutrients that imbue things such as red wine and green tea with their impressive health benefits. These include reduced risks of cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease, as well as boosted immunity, cell regeneration and cognition [10].

Blueberries pack these phytonutrients in spades, containing polyphenols of both the flavonoid and stilbene classes [10]. These provide blueberries with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making them particularly powerful allies not only in the battle against stress and anxiety, but also against cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease and age-related degeneration.

In particular, the flavonoid polyphenols in blueberries have been shown to improve symptoms of both anxiety and depression [10]. Anxiety, especially when experienced for prolonged periods, is associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain[11]. Additionally, prolonged stress states and anxiety disorders are associated with neurotransmitter imbalances, namely excessive norepinephrine [11].

Through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, blueberries have been shown to mitigate the oxidative stress and inflammation associated with stress [11]. Further, flavonoids have been shown to interact with enzymes responsible for neurotransmitter synthesis [12]. This, in combination with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties allows blueberries to assist in restoring balanced neurotransmitter levels [11, 12].

While blueberries have something to offer everyone in terms of health benefits, those experiencing excess stress and anxiety may find eating more of them particularly beneficial in achieving a tranquil, serene state of mind. Not only will you feel better in the short term, your health will be improved in the long term, giving you less to worry about down the road.

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