Not only is it blackberry season but it’s also World Alzheimer Month (bet you didn’t know that!). Last week saw the publication of the 2014 World Alzheimer Report from London’s King’s College. Encouragingly, the report says the risk of dementia can be reduced if we control diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. Diabetes alone increases the risk of dementia by 50%.
The report also stresses the need to preserve brain health in mid-life (supporting our Kale and Cocoa mantra that middle age is the critical time for adopting a healthier lifestyle). The authors put it like this: “Brain health is particularly important in mid-life as the changes in the brain responsible for dementia can begin decades before symptoms appear.” You can read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282759.php
We’re nearly at the end of the blackberry season, but if you read my last post (Eat Your Greens), you’ll know that blackberries are nutritional power houses – even better than the much-hyped blueberry. A 2006 study also showed that blackberries’ antioxidant content, per serving, was far above that of most other foods. And a 2009 study from Tufts University in Massachusetts showed how the polyphenols in blackberries not only zap inflammation but encourage communication between neurons, improving our ability to absorb new information. Virtually every list of ‘top ten brain foods’ includes the humble blackberry – so if you want a healthy brain, include blackberries in your diet. We pick them from the hedgerows every year (avoiding those on roads) and freeze them, giving us a year-long, free supply of organic brain food.
These foolproof blackberry and almond muffins are delicious and nutritious – and loved by every child and adult I know. If you don’t have blackberries, use blueberries. I sometimes replace 30g of the flour with milled chia seeds too.
And don’t forget to sign up, if you haven’t already. I’m writing this post from the hospital bedside of Daughter Number Two, who’s on a course of triple dose, intravenous antibiotics effectively wiping out every single microbiota in her digestive tract. So my next post will be on replenishing gut bacteria. Stay with us to find out why good gut flora is critical for healthy ageing – and to discover my secret weapon in the battle to repopulate the gut …
BLACKBERRY AND ALMOND MUFFINS
- 2 ripe bananas
- 300g wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 6 tbsp agave syrup or sweetener of your choice
- 284 ml carton buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 75 ml light olive oil
- 200g blackberries (wild are better than the over-sized commercial ones)
- 1 tbsp Demerara sugar and 2 tbsp flaked almonds (optional) to decorate
Heat oven to 180 and line the muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.
Mix the flour, bicarb, baking powder with a pinch of salt.
Add the buttermilk, beaten egg, olive oil, sweetener and mashed bananas. Stir gently.
Add the blackberries and spoon into the muffin cases. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and flaked almonds
Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.