BLUE power for your brain

You hear a lot of talk about going "green" for the environment, but today I want to talk about two other colors that hit a lot closer to home: Gray and blue.

If you want to protect your gray matter, eat more blueberries!

New research shows how this tiny nutritional powerhouse can help give you a sharper, quicker mind -- even as you get older and everyone around you slows down.

You'll wow your pals on trivia night. No one will beat you at poker. And if a slick-talking salesman tries to confuse you, he'll end up with egg on his face.

And it all starts with a blueberry habit.

In the study, healthy older folks between the ages of 60 and 75 were given a serving of powdered blueberries or a placebo powder to eat daily.

They were given MRI scans before the study, and new scans after three months -- and the differences were stunning.

The folks who ate blueberry had more activity in key cognitive regions.

But you know me. I'm not impressed by scans if there's no real-world benefit.

Fortunately, the folks in the study were also given tests before and after -- and the ones who had the blueberry showed incredible improvements.

They aced something called the California Verbal Learning Test, which measures verbal memory, and they ran rings around the placebo group on a test of what's known as task-switching.

That measures the ability to quickly change gears mentally by moving from one task to something completely new.

It's basically your ability to think fast and switch tracks, and indicates how well your all-important executive function is working out.

What makes these improvements especially stunning is that these folks didn't make any other changes.

They weren't told to switch diets, take any other supplement, or get more exercise.

All they did was eat the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries per day.

Obviously, we can't get TOO excited over this. The study doesn't mean blueberries will slow dementia or even prevent it from happening. It doesn't even mean that blueberries can stop cognitive decline.

But on the other hand, if you're a little older, cognitively healthy and want to stay that way or even get a little edge, then blueberries could give your gray matter that extra charge you're looking for.

The only downside is that a cup of blueberries per day -- every day -- is a lot for anyone to swallow.

After a while, you might get sick of the things, no matter how much you love them.

While the study didn't look at which nutrients in blueberry had the biggest effect on memory, you can find most of them in an antioxidant supplement. To match what's in blueberries, look for one rich in flavonoids.