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Depression : Blueberries May Fight 'The Blues'

By Julie Helm, Courtesy of Garden of Life

Need a mood lift? Then you may want to add blueberries to your diet. They are among some "good mood foods," and may be just what you need to fight "the blues." In fact, blueberries and other mood-boosting foods have been studied at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, and have been shown to have a similar impact as valproic acid, which is a mood-stabilizing prescription drug used to balance out mood swings in those with conditions that warrant it.

Karina Martinez-Mayorga of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and research scientist at the Chemistry Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, explains, "The tendency to depression in its many forms has increased due to our stressed society. Antidepressants are effective for only 50 to 60 percent of patients. Moreover, these antidepressants have slow onset of action and negative side effects. All this suggests the need for creative and new strategies. The large body of evidence that chemicals in blueberries, chocolate, raspberries, strawberries, teas and other certain foods could well be mood-enhancers, encourages the search for other mood modulators in food." Pretty impressive, right?

Blueberries, for instance, contain the powerful antioxidant flavonoid anthocyanidin, which has been linked to reducing inflammation as well as a person's risk for depression. On the other hand, increased inflammation is associated with increased depression. In fact, brain-mapping analyses have indicated that a 20 percent increase in inflammation markers caused a 10 percent drop in mood scores.

Additionally, blueberries -- as well as other berries, including strawberries, goji berries and acai berries -- offer a variety of nutrients which are thought to boost memory, sharpen cognition as well as reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, which is helpful for fighting the negative effects of stress. In fact, German researchers put this to the test. They had 120 people give a speech and then had those same people complete difficult math problems. The people who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure as well as lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels after facing those stressful tasks. Note this: a cup and a half of blueberries provides nearly 40 percent of your vitamin C needs, and in one study, higher levels of vitamin C were linked to a 34 percent drop in mood disturbances.

British researchers also had some mood-boosting findings about blueberries. Here's why. They had young adults consume 1.5 cups of blueberries and then measured the effects on the participants' moods. The result? Mood scores went up 15 percent five hours after consuming the blueberries.

This may put you in a good mood, too: some research points to blueberries helping to reverse loss of memory and motor coordination associated with aging. How cool is that?

So, if you're looking for a mood boost, it might be a good idea to have a healthy daily portion of yummy blueberries -- Certified USDA Organic, of course. They may help keep "the blues" away and much more.

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

© 2016 Garden of Life
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