Want the brain power and memory of a much younger person? Then make sure your diet features plenty of these better-brain foods
What you consume every day can improve your cognitive function as well as potentially help prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss in your later years. Which foods keep your brain in top working condition? Here are the top choices, and why you should work them into your diet.
People who have higher blood levels of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel) have a 47% lower risk of dementia than those with the lowest levels, reported a Tufts University study of about 900 older women and men. Eating fish three times a week led to the highest DHA levels.
Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils are all rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that improved memory and information-processing speed in a study of more than 800 women and men conducted by researchers in the Netherlands.
Fruits and veggies
A French study of 1,640 healthy women and men reported that participants who ate the most flavonoids—antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables as well as in coffee, tea, chocolate, and wine—had the smallest drops in brain functioning over 10 years.
While upping your total intake of produce can help, loading up on blueberries is a particularly good idea. They may have the chemical power to create new pathways for connection in the brain. The number of these connectors tends to drop off with age, but in animal studies, eating blueberries has been shown to help restore them, says Jim Joseph, Ph.D., director of the neuroscience lab at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University.
When researchers at the University of Nottingham, England, scanned the brains of 16 women who’d just finished a cup of cocoa, they found that blood flow to some brain regions rose—and stayed high—for two to three hours. This study used a blend of cocoa that’s not available commercially, but research suggests that cocoa and other forms of dark chocolate available in markets may have similar powers.
Prefer coffee to cocoa? Swedish and Finnish researchers found that moderate coffee consumption (three to five cups a day) cut dementia risk 65%.
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