15 Foods To Fuel Your Brain
The MIND diet (Mediterranean- DASH Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay) was developed by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center. It is a blend of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Proven to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by 53% in study participants who followed the diet closely, and 35% in those participants who followed the diet moderately, this diet specifically includes foods that appear to play key roles in brain health. Cooking Light provided a list of 15 Brain-Boosting Foods to help prevent mental decline:
Fish – Fatty fish like tuna and salmon has been found to slow cognitive decline due to its high content of omega-3 DHA fatty acid, which reduces oxidative stress and slows plaque buildup. Aim for at least one serving a week.
Blueberries – The MIND diet specifically emphasizes the intake of berries, which are packed with antioxidants. Blueberries are at the top of the list, with high antioxidant levels to fight off cell damaging free radicals. Aim for at least 2 cups per week.
Nuts – With walnuts at the top of the list, nuts offer a combination of omega-3s, vitamin E, and antioxidants, providing a powerful boost of brain boosting nutrients. Aim for a 1 oz. serving at least 5 days a week.
Beans – B vitamins and phytochemicals give beans their cognitive enhancing capabilities. Include beans with 4 or more meals per week.
Dark Leafy Greens – Packed with phytochemicals and folate, regular intake of greens have been found to lower risk of mental decline. Since folate deficiency is associated with depression and possible cognitive impairment, aim for at least 6 cups of dark leafy greens weekly.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – This oil contains oleocanthal has been found to boost the production of key enzymes that help break down the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. Use as often as you can.
Wine – Moderate alcohol intake is linked to improved memory and lowered Alzheimer’s risk. In particular, red wine may offer even more brain benefits due to resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes that may help reduce amyloid buildup in the brain. 1 glass a day provides the necessary benefits.
Green tea – Known for its high levels of antioxidants, green tea is one of the best ways to keep the brain hydrated. Found in green tea, the specific antioxidant catechin is one of the most effective antioxidants in preventing free radical damage and blocking amyloid plaque formation. Aim for regular consumption.
Coffee – This popular morning beverage contains multiple brain-boosting benefits, including lowering the risk of developing neurological diseases and enhanced memory. Coffee contains chologenic acid, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and the caffeine found in coffee also blocks adenosine, a chemical which inhibits the activity of nerve cells. Have no more than 4 cups of coffee daily.
Dark chocolate – Rich in flavonoids, which help create neurons, improves cognitive function, and releases mood-boosting endorphins, dark chocolate has multiple benefits for brain power. An occasional 1 oz. serving of a dark chocolate that contains 60% cacao or higher is recommended.
Fermented foods – Probiotic and prebiotic-containing fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and sauerkraut, provide benefits to the gut microbes that may benefit the brain. They also contain vitamin K, which may slow the development of Alzheimer’s due to its role in synthesizing important lipids. Consume these foods several times a week.
Turmeric – In India, where this spice is used heavily, lower rates of the occurrence of Alzheimer’s are found. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been found to reduce amyloid accumulation. It can be incorporated into dishes 1 to 2 times a week.
Foods rich in B Vitamins – Studies have found that low levels of folate and B12 are associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Foods high in vitamin B include whole grains, lean protein, including shellfish, and green vegetables.
Eggs – High in protein and low in calories, eggs are also a good source of vitamin D and choline, which helps to stimulate neurotransmitters - two nutrients key for brain health. Aim for 1 egg a day for healthy adults; up to 3 per week for those with heart disease or diabetes.
Coconut Oil – This plant oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat which may boost ketone levels, which are an energy source for glucose when brain cells become insulin resistant due to Alzheimer’s. Substitute occasionally for other oils in cooking.
Check out some recipes containing these brain-boosting foods here.