The best way to keep your body healthy is by physical exercise and eating well. This holds true for keeping your mind healthy. Nutrition plays a crucial role in keeping your brain healthy as evidenced by a study from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America that found that “the brain is made up of 60% fat and that fat insulates the nerve tracks. Without the fat stores in the brain, we slow down mentally.” Individuals need to consume the right kinds of foods and avoid foods that are high in sugar or transfats as those foods aren’t good for your brain or your body. Focusing on foods that are good for your brain and reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s is something we can all agree is a good plan, right?
Here are some foods to keep in your pantry and kitchen to feed your brain with:
- Go nuts! Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, that is. Walnuts are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, great for your brain and they also are packed with nutrition. A study in mice found that those mice that were given walnuts showed a marked improvement in both motor coordination and memory. Nuts also contain flavonoids and vitamin E, both of which can protect your brain.
- Go fish! When eating fish, prepare it in a heart healthy way by avoiding fish fries and opting for baked or broiled styles. Mackerel, salmon and sardines are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating eight ounces of fish per week is ideal. If you can’t abide fish, though, ask your doctor whether taking a fish oil supplement would be of benefit.
- Grab a handful! Eating berries – blueberries, cranberries and strawberries – infuses your body (and your brain) with antioxidants. Almost all berries are full of polyphenols, an antioxidant that stops inflammation and helps your brain cells function at higher levels. Berries have been shown to enhance your brain’s ability to gather and process information.
- Eat your greens! “Eat your vegetables,” It’s a mantra we have likely heard from childhood but as we age eating green, leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale becomes even more important. These vegetables are packed with fiber and antioxidants. A national study showed that women, aged 60 and older, who ate more green, leafy vegetables scored higher on memory and verbal tests than did women in the same age group that didn’t eat as many greens.
- Spice it up! Adding turmeric, which is full of vitamin D3 may help your brain rid itself of amino acids that form plaque on the brain. The plaque is associated with onset of Alzheimer’s. When you’re cooking, look for ways to use turmeric in your recipes.
- Wake up and enjoy! Yes, you can have your coffee and your chocolate as part of a brain-healthy diet! A study conducted by the University of South Florida showed that individuals aged 65 and older who drank three cups of coffee a day were able to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s for an additional three to five years. Caffeine is also shown to help reverse, or at least slow down, the impacts of Alzheimer’s. Imbibe in chocolate, dark chocolate preferably, as a way to keep your brain healthy. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate may help you stay brain healthy, so enjoy!
For the most part, a brain-healthy diet is one that benefits both body and mind. Keep in mind too, that staying active both physically and mentally will help you live a longer, healthier life!