Best Foods for a Healthy Brain
By: Stephanie Lawrence
A healthy diet may just keep your brain healthy too. The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is specifically designed to slow the decline of brain health and reduce the risk of the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
This “brain diet” focuses on an overall eating pattern that includes specific types of foods that optimize brain health. Rather than counting calories, the goal is to eat more brain-boosting foods while limiting those that sap your smarts. Taking the principles of the well known Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, the MIND diet focuses on foods with neuro-protective compounds. The idea is to protect against brain diseases by eating brain healthy foods and limiting unhealthy food choices.
The 10 Brain-Healthy “Food Groups” that help protect and fuel the brain include:
1. Green leafy vegetables- Research suggests brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene may help slow cognitive decline.
2. Other vegetables – Antioxidant and flavonoid-rich foods like carrots, celery and cucumbers are associated with lower cognitive decline.
3. Nuts – Walnuts are especially high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid which is linked to brain health.
4. Berries – Studies show that flavonoids which give berries their brilliant hues help improve memory.
5. Beans – High in protein, carbohydrates, anti-oxidants and minerals, this super food fuels brain functions like thinking, memory, and learning.
6. Whole grains – A “complete package” of benefits and rich in B vitamins whole grains reduce inflammation of the brain, potentially preserving your memory.
7. Fish – Incredibly important for brain function, fresh fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout or mackerel has an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
8. Poultry – Chicken contains choline and the B vitamins to provide neuroprotective benefits.
9. Olive oil – Antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil have been shown to reverse age- and disease-related learning and memory deficits.
10. Wine – A large Harvard study found that women who drank between ½ an ounce and 1 ounce of alcohol per day were more likely to remain free of chronic illness and memory loss as they aged.
The 5 Brain-Risk “Food Groups” to avoid or limit include:
red meat, butter/stick margarine, cheese, pastries/sweets, and fried/fast food.