Food For Thought

Want to help keep your mind sharp as you age? Here’s a good way to start: Mind what you put on your plate.

There’s no sure way to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But research suggests that a healthy diet may play a role in protecting your brain.*

Why do I need brain food?
The foods we eat don’t nourish only muscles and bones. They feed the brain too. Some studies suggest that eating right may help preserve brain function — and even help keep your memory sharp.*

How might it work? Research is ongoing. But one way healthy eating might benefit brain health is by supporting good blood circulation. The brain needs a steady supply of blood to function well.

A healthy diet may also help by reducing the risk of diseases that increase the odds of developing dementia.

Follow your heart.
So what foods are good for your brain? For the most part, the same ones that help your heart. That includes a diet that:

  • Is rich in plant foods.
  • Is low in saturated and trans fats.
  • Limits red meat and added sugars.

In fact, experts say many brain-healthy foods can already be found in 2 popular heart-healthy eating styles: the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

Here are some ways to get more of these good-for-you foods:

Go fish. Enjoy fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, a couple times a week. Why? They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote heart and brain health.

Pick some berries. Fresh, frozen or dried? Your mind won’t mind. Blackberries, blueberries and cherries are especially good memory boosters, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Give whole grains a go. Aim to make at least half your grains whole each day. You can eat them on their own, like plain popcorn, brown rice or oatmeal. Or choose foods that list a whole grain first in the ingredients. Look for whole-grain breads, pastas and tortillas.

Get on board with beans. Beans are a lean source of protein, which makes them great in meatless meals. Add them to enchiladas. Toss them into soups and salads. Or blend them into a tasty veggie dip.

 

Snack on some nuts. A few unsalted nuts are a healthy hunger fix. But they are high in calories — so practice portion control. Or sprinkle just a few on a salad or side dish.

Opt for olive oil. Try preparing foods with a little bit of healthy olive or canola oil instead of solid fats like butter.

Plate up more produce. Eat your vegetables every day. Especially good are leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach.