9 foods that may help save our memory as we get older 🤗
Healthy eating lowers your risk of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Whilst it’s still not yet clear if that’s also true for Alzheimer’s disease, it’s not a lost cause in any case.
Here are 9 foods that researchers think will keep your whole body, including your brain, healthy.
1. Oil-based salad dressings
“The data support eating foods that are high in vitamin E and this includes healthy vegetable oil-based salad dressings, seeds and nuts, peanut butter, and whole grains,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of the section on nutrition and nutritional epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University, in Chicago. The benefit has been seen with vitamin-E rich foods, but not supplements, she says.
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and other fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). “In the brain, DHA seems to be very important for the normal functioning of neurons,” Morris says. Another plus from eating more fish may also reduce your intake of red meat and other forms of protein that are high in arteryclogging saturated fats.
3. Dark green leafy vegetables
Kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E and folate, Morris says. For example, one cup of raw spinach has 15% of your daily intake of vitamin E, and 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach has 25% of your daily intake. Exactly how folate may protect the brain is unclear, but it may be by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain, but folic acid helps break down homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels have also been linked to an increased risk for heart disease.
This creamy treat is also a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E. Research by Morris and her colleague suggests that foods rich in vitamin E—including avocado, which is also high in the antioxidant powerhouse vitamin C—are associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
5. Sunflower seeds
Seeds, including sunflower seeds, are also good sources of vitamin E. One ounce of dryroasted sunflower seeds contains 30% of your recommended daily intake. Sprinkle them on top of your salad to give your brain a boost.
6. Peanuts and peanut butter
Although both are high in fat, peanuts and peanut butter tend to be a source of healthy fats. And they are also packed with vitamin E. Both foods may help keep the heart and brain healthy and functioning properly. Other good choices are almonds and hazelnuts. “There has been some very good research that diets that are high in healthy fats, low in saturated fat and trans fats, and rich in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and nuts are good for the brain and the heart,” says Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, senior director of medical and scientific relations at the Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association.
7. Red wine
Studies have shown that people who consume moderate amounts of red wine and other types of alcohol may be at reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but it may be that there is something else that tipplers do or don’t do that affects their risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Carrillo says. “People who drink alcohol or eat healthy may be healthier in other aspects of their life, so it is difficult to disentangle whether it’s the healthy diet that protects them versus other healthy behaviours.” However there has been tests with middle-aged rats treated with the compound, resveratrol, which demonstrated improved learning, memory and mood compared with animals given a dummy drug. Although the researchers have yet to test this out on humans, the encouraging results open up the possibility that treating middle-aged people with this compound could help improve memory and mood in old age.
The latest research presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston found that blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help put the brakes on age-related cognitive decline by preserving the brain’s natural “housekeeper” mechanism, which wanes with age. This mechanism helps get rid of toxic proteins associated with age-related memory loss.
9. Whole grains
Fiber-rich whole grains are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which is also loaded with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and wine. Research out of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City shows that this diet may be linked to lower risk of the mild cognitive impairment that can progress to Alzheimer’s disease. “We don’t eat foods or nutrients in isolation, we eat in combination with other foods so there is value in dietary patterns,” says Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University, who conducted the studies. This type of diet may reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure—all of which may have a role in increasing risk for brain and heart diseases.
– Health.com, 9 Foods That May Help Save Your Memory. Read more
– IFLScience, Red Wine Compound May Help Age-Related Memory Loss. Read more
– Kodali M, Parihar V, Hattiangady B, Vikas Mishra, Shuai B, K. Shetty A. Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 8075 (2015), Resveratrol Prevents Age-Related Memory and Mood Dysfunction with Increased Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Microvasculature, and Reduced Glial Activation. January 2015. Read more
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