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Food for Thought: Eating Your Way to a Healthier Brain

It’s no secret that diet plays a huge role in a person’s overall health. Diet applies every bit as much to the health of your brain as to the rest of your body. Numerous studies have shown that our dietary choices can have a significant impact on our cognitive health.[1] Incorporating certain foods into your diet not only can help improve brain function and memory, but may also lessen your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The following “smart” foods are considered particularly helpful for maintaining a healthy brain.

Brainberries

Blueberries are so renowned for their brain-boosting benefits that some have taken to calling them “brainberries.”[2] Researchers have observed that blueberries help slow cognitive decline and lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.[3] Studies of aging rats fed a diet heavy in blueberries noted improvements in their learning capacity and motor skills, putting their mental capabilities more on par with younger rats.[4]

More ‘mole, please

Here may be the answer to why you find guacamole so irresistible: your brain just can’t get enough avocado. Some people view avocado as somewhat of a guilty pleasure because of its high fat content. However, avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which is important for vascular health and maintaining healthy blood flow. Thus, avocados are actually quite healthy when enjoyed in moderation, especially for the brain, which relies on healthy blood flow to function properly. Avocados have also been shown to help lower blood pressure, an added health bonus for the brain, as hypertension is a risk factor for declining cognitive abilities.[5]

Go ahead and go nuts!

Nuts and seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, which is believed to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.[6] They also contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help to keep your arteries clear, thus improving blood flow to the brain.[7] The great thing about nuts and seeds is that they are easy to snack on. Bring a bag of mixed nuts along with you each day to work for a tasty mid-day snack that your brain will appreciate.

Go green

A number of studies have indicated that those in their golden years who continue to incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into their daily diet, especially the leafy-green types like spinach and romaine lettuce, enjoy a slower rate of cognitive decline and are at a lower risk for developing dementia. A Harvard Medical School study also found that women who ate more leafy-green and cruciferous vegetables also had lower rates of cognitive decline.[8] 

Gone fishin’

Fish, especially salmon, tilapia, and catfish, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, a nutrient that has been linked to healthy functioning of the brain. Omega-3s are also believed to help promote healthy circulation by clearing out arteries.[9]

 


[1] Melnick, Meredith. “Brain Food: Superfoods To Improve Your Cognitive Function.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

[2] Sorgen, Carol. “Best Brain Foods for Brain Function, Health, and Memory.” WebMD. WebMD, 18 Dec. 2008. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

[3] Melnick.

[4] Sorgen.

[5] Sorgen.

[6] Sorgen.

[7] Roizen, Michael F., and Mehmet C. Oz. “5 Best Foods For Brain Health.”HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Health, 07 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

[8] Kadey, Matthew. “The 11 Best Foods for Your Brain.” Shape Magazine. Shape Magazine, 21 Jan. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

[9] Sorgen.

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