Simple diet changes can have a powerful effect on brain health. Research shows that antioxidant-rich foods, moderation, and eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, and choosing whole grains over refined grains help us retain cognitive function as we age.
Recently, Baycrest Health Services at the University of Toronto published a Brain Health Food Guide. The downloadable guide is based on studies of adults 50 years of age and older who changed their diet and realized a number of benefits.
With simple rules to follow, such as choose color; grill, steam or bake rather than deep fry; and snack smart, eating brain boosting foods has never been easier.
Terry Small, author of the Brain Bulletin has long touted the health benefits of eating watermelon. The succulent fruit has the highest concentration of lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) of any fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene benefits the brain by helping to quench the free radicals that contribute to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis.
Including healthy fats in your diet is a simple and effective way to boost brain power. Two-thirds of avocado fat is in the form of monounsaturated fat, the same type of healthy fat that’s in olive oil. Monounsaturated fat is a key feature of the Mediterranean Diet, a healthy eating plan that’s linked to increased longevity. Monounsaturated fat also helps lowers inflammation and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while simultaneously increasing healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lowering heart disease risk.
Asparagus is an excellent source of the amino acid, asparagine. Asparagine is essential for proper brain function; deficiencies can cause trouble with memory. Known in scientific circles as a non-essential amino acid, asparagine is still critical to our overall health. Non-essential amino acids regulate digestion and absorption of nutrients, help immune function and enable us to rid our bodies of harmful toxins, which can cause inflammation and speed up the aging process.
4. Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate seeds boost the nutritional impact of any meal and are a great brain food snack. An antioxidant rich food, the ruby kernels are bursting with vitamin C and flavanoids that help keep our brains and blood vessels healthy.
Nuts are part of the MIND Diet, a well-researched dietary pattern that can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 35%. The MIND Diet recommends enjoying nuts at least five times a week. Like avocados, nuts are loaded with the same beneficial fat that make olives and their oil sought-after commodities in kitchens around the world.