There is a wide variety of foods and groups of foods that can help boost the brain’s health. Usually, the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in these foods are what assist the brain by protecting its cells and neural pathways. These different foods have also been shown to create or spark the creation of new neural pathways or new neurons in the brain, which is why they are called brain-healthy foods. Examples of these kinds of foods include leafy greens, as well as other varieties of heavier pigmented fruits and vegetables. Foods that contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can also help increase brain health, such as several kinds of fish. These are also helpful for decreasing an individual’s chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, could delay the progression of the disease, or even help boost brain memory in the beginning stages of the disease. Including brain-healthy foods in everyday eating is incredibly beneficial for anyone; however, if you or a loved one are at risk for either dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is even more critical to incorporate these kinds of foods.
Darker vegetables and fruits
There are foods that are more beneficial to the brain than others are, and some are particularly helpful for the memory. Foods in this category reduce brain cell damage or even boost the retention of memory and whole-brain function. The majority of these kinds of foods are fruits and vegetables that have dark skins; however, spinach, collard greens, and kale have been shown to have the strongest, most helpful effects on the brain. These leafy, dark greens have high levels of flavonoids and carotenoids- nutrients that combat levels of brain decline by nearly forty percent. Eating at least three servings of these dark, leafy greens per day gives the greatest impact for the preservation of the brain.
Possessing high amounts of antioxidants is the main reason that most fruits and vegetables are thought of as brain-healthy. Fruits and vegetables are one of the easiest places to find antioxidants, which can help stop or slow damage to cells. Common, recognizable forms of these antioxidants in foods that are brain-healthy are Vitamin C and E, as well as beta-carotene. All three of these are able to help slow the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as delaying a decline in cognitive or physical self during early disease stages.
Below, there is a list that names brain-healthy fruits and vegetables that have a rich supply of antioxidants.
Fruits: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, acai berries, cranberries, blackberries, elderberries, raisins, prunes, plums, cherries, and oranges.
Vegetables: collard greens, spinach, kale, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, brussels sprouts, corn, beets, eggplant, and red peppers.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for aiding brain function as well. These fatty acids can help lower the risk factors for or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Omega-3s are so beneficial to brain health because they reduce brain plaque or tangle formations, increase the neuron count, and help make positive brain chemicals. They are mostly found in fish but can be found in many different groups of food. Eating foods with these essential nutrients boost the health of the whole brain by helping to maintain cognitive function.
Below, there is a list of foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fresh tuna (only to be eaten two times monthly at most due to high levels of mercury), wild salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, halibut, anchovies, sea bass, oysters, mussels, shrimp, fish or krill oil, Grass-fed beef, canola oil, flax seeds/oil, mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, algae, brussels sprouts, green vegetables, cauliflower, and oatmeal.
Adding Omega-3 rich foods can help increase memory levels and delay Alzheimer’s progression. Improvements as a result of these nutrients are often noticed very quickly and have the ability to be effective for a long time if Omega-3s are consistently eaten. Eating between one and three servings of fish every week has shown the most benefit, even in comparison to taking a fish oil capsule as a dietary supplement. Supplements such as these are helpful, but the brain and body are able to absorb and use nutrients more effectively when they are taken from natural sources.
Omega-3 fatty acids, helpful for memory and neuron development, have these positive benefits that can be undone by an unbalanced, poor diet. Three servings of fish for nutrients per week is wonderful but is counteracted by a diet heavy in cholesterol, refined sugar, or saturated fats. To reap the most benefits from the vitamins and minerals in foods, one must also eat a well-rounded, healthy diet.
The helpful aspects of omega-3 fatty acids have been clearly noted in individuals who are in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but studies have demonstrated that the consumption of omega-3s has not been beneficial for individuals who have a moderate to a high progression of these diseases. Beginning nutritional changes is best done before the onset or at the first notion of negative cognitive symptoms. A special study was done with people who carry the E4 allele, which is a genetic Alzheimer’s risk factor. In these individuals, the consumption of omega-3s has not been shown as effective in any stage for slowing the progression of the disease or its symptoms.
The Mediterranean Diet
People who reside in the Mediterranean region of the world have greater life expectancies, as well as a lower percentage of their population with dementia than other populations around the world. Because of this, the Mediterranean diet is a recommendation to assist in reducing dementia risk. This approach to eating has a positive effect on individuals who are already in dementia’s earlier stages, delaying symptom progression, as well as lowering heart disease and stroke risks.
The Mediterranean diet’s main components are large portions of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. The majority or even all meals are made of these ingredients and individuals should have at least six or more servings of vegetables and fruits every day. Whole grains, fish, and seafood are crucial and should be included in the majority of meals to provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds are included in the suggested elements of the diet as well. Most individuals who practice the Mediterranean diet have fish or seafood at least two times per week. Red meat should not be eaten more than one to two times every month, replaced by turkey or chicken.
The Mediterranean diet maintains the avoidance of butter, dairy products with high-fat content, salt, and refined sugars. Skim or fat-free dairy options can replace full-fat ones. Olive oil easily replaces butter in most cases and is also a significant component of the diet, usually extra virgin and virgin olive oil. These types of oil are the healthiest because they have the highest levels of antioxidants. Herbs and spices replace salt for flavoring food and boosting the nutritional value. Turmeric, for example, is a common curry spice that helps stop plaque formation in the brain and combat Alzheimer’s development.
Nuts and seeds have both a high fiber and a high protein content, which helps keep the body fuller for longer amounts of time. They also are parts of a well-balanced diet. A handful of nuts per day is the recommended amount, as long as roasted or salt-heavy nuts are not eaten. Suggestions that are appropriate include almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts.
Food is an incredibly important part of keeping both the body and the brain healthy, preventing illness and slowing decay. It is important that foods with high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids become a daily part of diets to keep healthy and prevent deadly diseases. The Mediterranean diet is a great baseline for balanced eating that can prevent damage, but the most important rule is having a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet to help create and nurture the healthiest brain and body possible.