Boost Your Brain Power With These “Smart Foods”
Certain foods, in particular, have been shown to help boost memory and even slow cognitive decline.
Try incorporating these delicious brain-boosting foods into your daily diet:
Cruciferous and Leafy Green Vegetables
A study from Harvard Medical School found that women who hate relatively high amounts of vegetables over the years had less age-related decline in memory. Cruciferous and leafy green vegetables were shown to help slow cognitive decline the most.
- Good sources of cruciferous vegetables include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens and kale.
- Good sources of leafy green vegetables include: arugula, collard greens, endive, escarole, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, radicchio, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens and watercress.
Apples are a rich source of quercetin, a potent antioxidant. According to an animal study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, quercetin has been shown to help protect brain cells against oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
If apples aren’t your thing, these foods are also high in quercetin: citrus fruits, onions, parsley, sage, tea and even red wine — cheers!
Research has suggested that flavonoids, a compound in blueberries, may improve memory, learning and general cognitive function, including reasoning skills, decision making, verbal comprehension and numerical ability. In addition, studies comparing dietary habits with cognitive function in adults hint that consuming flavonoids may help slow the mental decline that is often seen with aging, and might even provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In one study, researchers looked at data from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study. Between 1995 and 2001, more than 16,000 of the nurses who were over 70 years old began having their memory tested in two-year intervals. It was found that the nurses who had the greater intakes of blueberries and strawberries experienced slower rates of cognitive decline.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through the diet. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in fish as EPA and DHA. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. On the other hand, the higher one’s omega-3 levels, the lower his or her depression risk.
One study found that people who ate broiled or baked tuna and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids three times or more per week had a nearly 26 percent lower risk of having the silent brain lesions that can cause dementia and stroke compared to people who did not eat fish regularly. Eating just one serving of oily fish like salmon per week led to a 13 percent lower risk.
Nuts are packed with folate, a B-vitamin essential nutrient for proper brain functioning. Nuts are also a rich source of vitamin E. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of the free radical-fighting antioxidant vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly.