How to Eat to Boost Your Brain (3:21)
If you’re at risk of a chronic illness like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the first prevention strategy typically is to change your diet; yet, this method can be used to reduce your chances of developing degenerative mental conditions, too. There’s a critical link between the way your brain ages and the food you eat,andresearch has shown that some foods hold promise in helping cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, says Max Lugavere, a health and science journalist and the author of Genius Foods. To help eliminate brain fog, optimize brain health, and achieve peak mental performance, incorporate these super foods into your diet.
Cacao is not only the star ingredient in indulgent bars of dark chocolate, but also contains compounds that simulate antioxidants that can help prevent brain inflammation, Lugavere says. The seeds are full of polyphenols, which are micronutrients that may play a role in the prevention of degenerative diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
As a budget-friendly alternative to salmon, herring is packed with healthy omega 3 fatty acids that are necessary for our brains to optimally function. Among these acids is DHA, which is one of the most highly concentrated fats in the brain and plays a vital role in its structure and functioning, Lugavere says. If your DNA makes you at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, herring may offer an ounce of hope: some studies suggest the fish may be beneficial for those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. To reap the cold-water fish’s benefits, top one serving on a salad each week.
Mushrooms have an abundant natural supply of two extremely powerful antioxidants, ergothioneine, and glutathione, both of which have been linked to longevity, Lugavere says. Studies have also found a strong correlation between being a mushroom lover and having a reduced risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease, so follow in your vegetarian friend's footsteps and use the caps as a meat substitute in burgers, pasta, and tacos.
In addition to being plentiful in antioxidants, blueberries have been shown to enhance memorization skills and improve memory in older adults at risk for developing dementia. Research has also shown that eating two servings of blueberries or strawberries per week could slow cognitive decline by two and a half years in women. Snack on these super fruits raw, dip them in 85 percent cacao chocolate or add them to your morning smoothie to make the most of their possible brain-enhancing capabilities.
If animal-derived foods typically make their way onto your plate, consider both the quality of what you’re eating and what that animal ate. Grass-fed beef has three times the amount of vitamin E than grain-fed beef, and some evidence has shown that the vitamin can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, Lugavere says. But serving size of the omega 3-packed protein matters: aim to eat a three-ounce portion, which is roughly the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of playing cards.