Your Brain Health

| September 29, 2014 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post
Diet and Your Brain

Diet and Your Brain

Add these ‘superfoods’ to your daily diet, and you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy
brain for the rest of your life.
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

There’s no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. But research is
showing that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain well into your old age if
you add these “smart” foods to your daily eating regimen.

Blueberries. “Brainberries” is what Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods
Proven to Change Your Life, calls these tasty fruits. Pratt, who is also on staff at Scripps Memorial
Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., says that in animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help
protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as
Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly
improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent
to much younger rats. Ann Kulze, MD, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent
Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality, recommends adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any
form — fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried.

Wild salmon. Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are
essential for brain function, says Kulze. Both she and Pratt recommend wild salmon for its
“cleanliness” and the fact that it is in plentiful supply. Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory
substances. Other oily fish that provide the benefits of omega-3s are sardines and herring, says
Kulze; she recommends a 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week.

Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, says Pratt, explaining that higher
levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of
walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds,
flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or
roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts.

Avocados. Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health, says Pratt. “I don’t
think the avocado gets its due,” agrees Kulze. True, the avocado is a fatty fruit, but, says Kulze, it’s a
monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. “And healthy blood flow means a
healthy brain,” she says. Avocados also lower blood pressure, says Pratt, and as hypertension is a
risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health.
Avocados are high in calories, however, so Kulze suggests adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to
one daily meal as a side dish.

Whole grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice can reduce the
risk for heart disease. “Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow,” says Pratt. “If you
promote cardiovascular health, you’re promoting good flow to the organ system, which includes the
brain.” While wheat germ is not technically a whole grain, it also goes on Kulze’s “superfoods” list
because in addition to fiber, it has vitamin E and some omega-3s. Kulze suggests 1/2 cup of wholegrain
cereal, 1 slice of bread two-thee times day, or 2 tablespoons of wheat germ a day.

Category: Brain Health

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