So much attention has recently been brought to our heart health and the foods that will treat or decrease the likelihood of developing heart disease, but what about another important organ that is continuously working-our brain? Not only do we use this daily to help make decisions, but it also stores memories, something most people hold very dear. Diseases affecting the brain, namely dementia and Alzheimer’s, are becoming more and more prevalent in the United States and around the world. While there is no cure for these yet, it is possible to eat in a way to prevent or slow the progression of these diseases. New research is being done to prove the effectiveness of the appropriately named MIND diet in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s, but we already know of some foods that researchers can all agree provide benefits for the brain and memory.
1. Cruciferous and dark, leafy greens.
These include broccoli, spinach, and kale, along with many other vegetables. The vitamins and minerals contained in these foods help to increase blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain. Increased blood flow will help the brain function better. These foods also act as anti-inflammatories, which helps to preserve brain function.
2. Dark red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables.
These foods, including blueberries, cherries, beets, tomatoes, and others, contain anthocyanins. Consumption of anthocyanins has been linked to improved brain health and function. These compounds also increase blood flow to the brain and promote growth of the cells found in the memory and learning part of the brain. Arguably the most important brain food is the blueberry. Not only do they provide the above benefits, but they also stimulate the release of a protein in the brain that helps more neurons grow. This can help to prevent and even reverse deterioration of brain cells and function. Coffee and dark chocolate are other foods that also stimulate the release of this protein.
3. Healthy fats.
While the term “healthy fat” may sound counterintuitive, foods that contain healthy fat include fish, avocados, and walnuts. The healthy fat inside them is known as omega-3 fatty acid. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and is the most abundant fatty acid found in the brain. Adding to this store will in turn increase function of the brain.
While all of these foods can do wonders for your
brain, many of them will help keep your heart healthy too! Give these different groups of food a try a few days a week and protect your brain and memory!
Moore, Marisa. Memory Boosting Foods. AND website. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/healthy-aging/memory-boosting-foods. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published January 8, 2015. Accessed October 26, 2015.
Paturel, Amy. Eat Your Way to Brian Health. AARP Bulletin. Oct. 2015. Print.
Painter, Kim. Diet still holds the best hope for feeding your brain. USA Today. Sept. 2015. Print.