We tend to view forgetfulness as a normal part of the aging process, but there are ways to slow down time’s effects on your mind.
The best menu for boosting memory and brain function encourages good blood flow to the brain much like what you’d eat to nourish and protect your heart. A recent study found that the Mediterranean Diet helps in keeping aging brains sharp, and a growing body of evidence links Power Foods like those in the Mediterranean diet with better cognitive function, memory, and alertness.
The National Institutes of Health has said there is insufficient evidence that food, diet, or lifestyle will prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Dairy products, meat, and eggs are loaded with saturated fat. A person who consumes two eggs, a strip of bacon, a chicken thigh (without the skin), a glass of milk, and a small pizza over the course of a day eat enough saturated fat to be considered part of the high-risk group in the Chicago study.
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans, on the other hand, have virtually no saturated fat. Building your menu from these foods helps you skip “bad fat” — and does your brain a huge favor.
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and other fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid listed as Power Foods.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E and are listed in Power Foods, says Pratt, explaining that higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseed, and un hydrogenated nut butter such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts are the best power foods.
Oil-based salad dressings:
The data support eating foods that are high in vitamin E and this includes healthy vegetable oil-based salad dressings, seeds and nuts, peanut butter, and whole grains, says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of the section on nutrition and nutritional epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University, in Chicago.
Dark green leafy vegetables:
Kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E and folate, Morris says. for example, one cup of raw spinach has 15% of your daily intake of vitamin E, and 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach has 25% of your daily intake. These are the Best Power Foods.
Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health, says Pratt. “I don’t think the avocado gets its due,” agrees Kulze. True, the avocado is a fatty fruit, but, says Kulze, it’s monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. “And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain,” she says.
Avocados also lower blood pressure, says Pratt, and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, lower blood pressure should promote brain health. Avocados are high in calories, however, so Kulze suggests adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish.
Studies have shown that people who consume moderate amounts of red wine and other types of alcohol may be at reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.