A diet that is healthy for your brain is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, boosts good blood flow to the brain, and is low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Your brain requires the right balance of nutrients including protein, carbohydrate and antioxidants to function well. In addition to a healthy diet, physical and mental activities as well as social interaction can help to keep your brain performing at its best.
There are several things you can do to promote brain health:
Manage your weight
A long-term study of 1,500 adults who were obese in middle age found that individuals were twice as likely to develop dementia in later life. Participants in the study were six times more likely to develop dementia if they also had elevated cholesterol and blood pressure.
Decrease intake of foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol
These foods can block arteries, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil and bake or grill foods rather than frying.
Increase intake of protective foods
Vegetables and fruits with dark skins are high in antioxidants, which are beneficial substances that have shown to reduce the effects of aging. Vegetables include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, beets, red peppers, eggplant and onions. Fruits include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes and cherries. Cold water fish containing omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial including halibut, salmon, trout and tuna. Nuts including walnuts, almonds and pecans are also rich in antioxidants
While there are no exact right amounts of these foods to include in your diet, a combination of weight maintenance and the intake of healthy fats and antioxidants can help promote brain health.
Sources: Phyllis J. Famularo, DCN, RD, CSG, LDN
Sodexo—Regional Nutrition Manager