June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
As we age, what we eat becomes more and more important for overall health, but especially for brain health. Eating a diet rich in brain-boosting foods can be beneficial for both your brain health now, such as for memory and concentration so you can complete daily tasks, but also for long-term brain health.
Think of the brain as the command center of your body—it is what allows you to think, speak, move, feel, breathe, and more. Because the brain has such an important job, it needs the right fuel and nutrients to keep it working properly.
The types of foods you eat play a big role in how your brain functions. Studies have shown that foods that are rich in certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help protect your brain as you age by helping to improve memory, concentration, problem-solving, judgment, and more.
Eating a diet rich in specific brain-boosting foods can also ward off the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia—brain disorders that can greatly affect the quality of life for seniors.
To help boost your brain function now, keep your brain healthy as you age, and help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders, make sure you are getting these key foods and nutrients in your diet on a regular basis for optimal brain health.
1. Fatty fish. Fish like salmon, albacore tuna, herring, trout, and sardines are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain relies on to build brain and nerve cells. These fats are also crucial for memory and learning. Some research suggests that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help slow down age-related cognitive decline and help fend off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Coffee. If you have a regular morning cup-of-joe habit, keep it up! In fact, having a few cups of coffee per day is not only okay but also beneficial for your brain. Coffee contains caffeine and antioxidants that support brain health and may help reduce risks for neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s.
3. Berries. Blueberries and other richly colored berries contain important types of antioxidants that help keep your brain healthy. Add berries to breakfast cereal or on top of yogurt, or enjoy fresh berries as a sweet snack.
4. Broccoli. Broccoli contains compounds called glucosinolates, which break down in the body as isothiocyanates. These compounds may help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables also contain vitamin C and flavonoids, types of antioxidants that can keep your brain healthy.
5. Dark chocolate. It’s okay to give in to your chocolate craving, just nix the milk chocolate and opt for dark chocolate instead. Dark chocolate contains lots of antioxidants that help stimulate blood flow to the brain, and help with memory and learning.
6. Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hazelnuts contain vitamin E, which can help protect brain cells from oxidative stress and may help improve cognition and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Eggs. This classic breakfast food is rich in B vitamins and folic acid that may help prevent age-related brain shrinkage and cognitive decline.
8. Whole grains. Eating a variety of whole grains provides another good source of vitamin E that helps protect your brain. Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, barley, bulgur wheat, and whole-grain products like pasta, bread, and cereals are all good sources of vitamin E.
9. Avocados. Avocados are wonderful sources of unsaturated fats, which can keep blood pressure in check. High blood pressure has been linked to cognitive decline.
10. Kale. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach contain key antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support overall brain health.