If, like me, you are a domestic engineer kind of guy, one of your new domestic duties is that of family food police. (Uniforms are optional, but aprons are not). Not only do you prepare the repast, you must know what’s in it and what it can do to you and your loved ones if consistently consumed in portions found on an NFL training camp table. You now regulate the fat fare and have domestic diet dominion. No easy task.
Today, it takes a PhD in nutrition to keep up with all of the food news and minefields. You’re still working on your BS in domestic engineering. What you don’t know can kill you. That said, it is a miracle any of us are still alive.
Weekly, we are informed about a miracle food, vitamin, or drug that if consumed daily will add 25 years to our lives. Conversely we are informed that some foods will kill us, especially when consumed in quantities equivalent to the size of a silo.
According to Time magazine, one of the top ten foods that “pack a wallop” is blueberries. Having memory problems? Forget ginkoba, blueberries are now the miracle memory food. Not gooseberries, raspberries or blackberries. We had a gooseberry tree on my boyhood farm in northern Indiana. Mom occasionally made gooseberry pie. Yuck.
Lab tests suggest that blueberries extend the lives of rats. Explain to me why we would want to do that? I spend a fair amount of household police beat work battling rats that consider our walls penthouse living. Our garage must be akin to a Grand Cayman Islands resort. Back on the Indiana farm of my youth, my brother and I used to combat rats feeding in our grain bin. We used stray cats or two-by-fours and pitchforks. There was a reason I never bothered to watch the movie “Ben.” Oh wait, I found “Ratatouille” rather entertaining. But hey, Remy could cook; proving anyone can cook.
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center fed extracts of blueberries, strawberries and spinach to 19-month old rats, whose age is roughly equivalent of 65 to 70-year-old humans, and compared their health with that of rats receiving no supplements. All of the rats receiving supplements showed improvement in short-term memory. Rats receiving blueberry extracts also showed distinct improvements in balance and coordination.
A spokesperson for the National Institute of Aging reportedly said, “The exciting finding from this study is the potential reversal of age-related impairments in both memory and motor coordination — the investigators were able to produce a notable improvement within a relatively short period of time.”
I have a little trouble understanding how rats’ bodies and behaviors can be projected onto humans. That’s a pretty cynical view of humans. But, now that I think about it, I’ve known plenty of human rodents in my lifetime.
What is so dangerous about blueberry, strawberry or spinach extract that would keep it from being tested on 65 to 70-year-old humans? Nobody asked me, least not as I remember. Yes, rats will eat anything. Humans might barf up a concoction of blueberries, strawberries and spinach. Regardless, I could use some improvement in memory, balance and coordination, especially balance and coordination when combating rats.
In a report to the North American Blueberry Council in 1998, Ronald Prior, PhD, concluded that blueberries, on a fresh-weight basis, have the highest antioxidant capacity of all the fresh fruits and vegetables tested to date. Antioxidants fight off what are called “free radicals” from smog, cigarette smoke and other nasty stuff that causes or accelerates aging. Wasn’t “free radicals” a ’60s slogan?
Daily dosage recommendations range from ½ to one cup per day. Blueberries aren’t exactly abundantly available. Except for a few months a year, blueberries cost $5 to $6 a pint in California supermarkets. I was thinking of turning my backyard into a blueberry patch, but our dog wouldn’t have any place to dig.
According to the North American Blueberry Council, the current per capita annual consumption of blueberries is a paltry 14 ounces — less than a pound. It’s a wonder we remember anything.
Memory really comes in handy now and then. Consider:
— Academic entrance exams
— Classmate names at high school reunions
— Wedding anniversaries and spousal birthdays
— Locating your car in a large parking lot
— When you forgot your grocery list
— Finding your way back home
— Why you went into that room
We could meet our daily blueberries quota by mixing them with other ingredients. But those products come with baggage. Blueberry yogurt has two to three blueberries per container, but you’d have to eat several gallons a day to make the cup-a-day blueberry quota. There’s blueberry cobbler and blueberry pie. Cobblers and pies come with one of those bad words that research proved also weighs down rats — fat. That research does apply to humans. Rats.
This brings new meaning to the Fats Domino classic “Blueberry Hill,” and the lyrics: “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” (Fats may have earned his name consuming too much blueberry cobbler.) We could change the lyrics. How about: “How time stood still on Blueberry Hill”? Or a love song: “I met my match in a Blueberry Patch. In a Blueberry Patch, where I found you”. I’m guessing a career as a songwriter is not in the cards.
I wonder if two cups a day would reverse aging or help write lyrics?
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