FOLSOM, Calif. – Taking the time to focus on brain health is vital and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is helping consumers find more ways to grab a boost of blue during Brain Health Month in June. Enjoying fresh and frozen blueberries daily is one of the small choices that, as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, may add up to support brain health. Throughout the month, USHBC’s new promotional campaign highlights recipes, resources, nutrition information and health research to shine a spotlight on blueberries as a deliciously simple, snackable and healthy option. The month-long campaign features blueberry promotions such as videos, social media content, email marketing and digital advertising, including original content developed by program spokesperson Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, and USHBC’s “Blue Crew” health professional partners.
Brain health is important at every age in the lifecycle and especially relevant for older adults. In America, the population of adults 65 and older is expected to reach 98 million – or nearly 25% of the population – by 2060.[i] Diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, are most common in this population of older adults, and the risk increases with age.[ii]
Diet may have a role to play in bolstering brain health and mitigating potential risks. Evidence suggests that eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and seafood during adulthood is associated with lower risk of age-related cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[iii], [iv], [v], [vi], [vii] A growing body of scientific evidence is examining how blueberries can be part of eating patterns to support brain health, especially as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.[viii], [ix], [x], [xi]
“June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which is a strong reminder to prioritize practices that may support brain health in our everyday lives, such as incorporating blueberries and other nutritious foods into our eating patterns,” said Lisa Mosconi, PhD, Director of the Women’s Brain Initiative, Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic and Associate Professor of Neuroscience in Neurology and Radiology, Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “I am delighted to partner with USHBC to share my favorite ways to enjoy fresh and frozen blueberries. Personally, I’m a huge fan of grabbing a boost of blue and putting blueberries in just about everything, from smoothies to salads – and even on the cover of my books.”
The Brain Health Month promotional campaign is one of six “power periods” that support Grab a Boost of Blue, a strategic positioning and call to action backed by new tools and consumer research for retailers. Grab a Boost of Blue is designed to inspire and motivate consumers to enjoy more of the blueberries they love, in more ways and more often – ultimately driving demand and increasing sales. Retailers, food and nutrition professionals, and industry stakeholders are encouraged to participate and inspire their audiences to think about brain health using engaging, easy-to-use content developed by USHBC, including social media images, digital ads and other resources. The toolkit is available here.
One of USHBC’s primary messages for consumers looking to make health-conscious food decisions is that blueberries offer one delicious, no-fuss solution. It’s simple to grab a boost of blue every day: just rinse and eat as a snack or add to a favorite dish. Fresh and frozen blueberries are a source of fiber and vitamin C, and rich in various vitamins and minerals – all at just 80 calories per cup. They fit perfectly and colorfully into the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables.”
“Brain health is a vital aspect of our overall health. It’s important to identify and act on the small, health-conscious steps we can take each day, such as focusing our daily diet on nutritious foods like blueberries,” said Jennifer Sparks, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “We find it rewarding to partner with trusted health professionals and help consumers – from busy parents on the go to active weekenders to trend-setters experimenting in the kitchen – find new ways to enjoy blueberries each day. Grabbing a boost of blue has never been easier or more delicious.”
Additional promotional initiatives in the month of June include co-branded retail activations with California Walnuts and expanded activities with year-round partner, the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH). USHBC is collaborating with California Walnuts and a selective group of retailers, including Coborn’s, Rouses Markets and Weis Markets, to encourage consumers to “grab a boost of blue and walnuts, too!” Activations will include unique opportunities such as TV segments, e-newsletter features, Facebook Lives, and more, led by retail registered dietitians. In addition, USHBC is sponsoring a digital web series that will promote blueberry recipes, resources and research, and an article written by PBH Have A Plant® Ambassador and registered dietitian, Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD. The timely content will be featured on the PBH homepage for one week, amplified via its e-newsletter and social media channels and cross-promoted on both USHBC and Cara Harbstreet’s channels.
About the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
Established in 2000, The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is a federal agriculture research and promotion program with independent oversight from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USHBC represents blueberry growers and packers in North and South America who market their blueberries in the United States and overseas, and works to promote the growth and well-being of the entire blueberry industry. USHBC was established by blueberry growers and currently has 2,500 growers, packers and importers. USHBC is committed to providing blueberries that are grown, harvested, packed and shipped in clean, safe environments. Learn more at ushbc.org.
[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Promoting Health for Older Adults. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/promoting-health-for-older-adults.htm#:~:text=The%20increase%20in%20the%20number,nearly%2025%25%20of%20the%20population.
[ii] Alzheimer’s Disease. (2021). What is Alzheimer’s Disease. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers
[iii] 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Systematic Reviews of the Dietary Patterns, Foods and Nutrients, and Health Outcomes Subcommittee. (2021). https://nesr.usda.gov/2020-dietary-guidelines-advisory-committee-systematic-reviews/dietary-patterns-subcommittee/dietary-patterns-neurocognitive-health
[iv] Ekstrand B, Scheers N, Rasmussen MK, Young JF, Ross AB, Landberg R. Brain foods – the role of diet in brain performance and health. Nutr Rev. 2020 Sep 29:nuaa091.
[v] Gehlich K. H., Beller J., Lange-Asschenfeldt B., Köcher W., Meinke M. C., Lademann J. (2019). Fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with improved mental and cognitive health in older adults from non-Western developing countries. Public Health Nutr. 22 689–696.
[vi] Nurk E., Refsum H., Drevon C.A., Tell G.S., Nygaard H.A., Engedal K., and Smith A.D. 2010. Cognitive performance among the elderly in relation to the intake of plant foods. The Hordaland Health Study. Br. J. Nutr. 104(8): 1190–1201.
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[viii] Travica N, D’Cunha NM, Naumovski N, Kent K, Mellor DD, Firth J, Georgousopoulou EN, Dean OM, Loughman A, Jacka F, Marx W. The effect of blueberry interventions on cognitive performance and mood: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Brain Behav Immun. 2020; 85:96-105.
[ix] Bowtell JL, Aboo-Bakkar Z, Conway ME, Adlam AR, Fulford J. Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017; 42(7):773-779.
[x] Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, Kalt W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk MR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010, 58:3996-4000.
[xi] Wilhelmina Kalt, Aedin Cassidy, Luke R Howard, Robert Krikorian, April J Stull, Francois Tremblay, Raul Zamora-Ros, Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 11, Issue 2, March 2020, Pages 224–236