Tags: superfood | mental | health | aging | alzheimer

Eight Superfoods to Keep You Mentally Sharp

Eight Superfoods to Keep You Mentally Sharp
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By    |   Thursday, 14 April 2016 11:36 AM EDT

We are living much longer than our parents ever did, so why shouldn’t we do everything we can to live healthy lives and age wisely to enjoy our longer lifespans?

Maintaining our functionality and independence does not just depend upon our physical health but also on our mental acuity, many studies show. While we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, we know that that the brain functions better when our diet includes certain foods. 

“A brain healthy diet [is] one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The overall goal is the prevention of mental deterioration and if choosing certain foods over others can help then why not do so?  Here a few that can help:

Blackberries: In order to process new information our brain cells need to “talk” to each other.  Yet as we age those cells become inflamed making it harder for them to communicate with one another. Blackberries provide potent antioxidants called polyphenols that reduce the inflammation and encourage communication between neurons, improving our ability to gather up new information

Apples: America’s favorite fruits are a leading source of quercetin, an antioxidant plant chemical that defends your brain cells from free radical attacks which can damage the outer lining of delicate neurons and eventually lead to cognitive decline. To get the most quercetin be sure to eat your apples with the skin on since that is where the greater concentration is found.

Cinnamon: Beta-amyloid plaques are one of the trademarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The other important culprits are the tangles in the brain made of Tau proteins that cause brain cells to die. Emerging research from the University of California-Santa Barbara reveals that two compounds in cinnamon — proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde — may inactivate these tau proteins and help prevent age-related cognitive declines.

Spinach: This leafy green is very high in nutrients that prevent dementia — such as folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Only one-half cup of cooked spinach provides a third of the folate and five times the vitamin K of your daily needs. A landmark neurology study by the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago revealed that eating three servings of leafy green, yellow, and cruciferous vegetables daily can delay cognitive decline by 40 percent. Of these three, leafy greens were found to the most protective.

Extra virgin olive oil: Amyloid B- derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs) are Alzheimer’s disease-inducing proteins that are toxic to the brain. In the initial stages of the disease they attach to brain cells rendering them unable to communicate with one another and eventually leading to memory loss.  Extra virgin olive oil is rich in oleocanthal, a compound that disables the action of dangerous ADDLs.

Salmon: This fatty fish is a leading source of DHA, the predominant omega-3 fatty acid in your brain, believed to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. It is also nature’s No. 1 source of vitamin D, a nutrient that plays an important role in the prevention of cognitive decline.

Turmeric: This unique spice is a cousin of ginger and one of the main spices used in Asian curry dishes. Turmeric is especially rich in curcumin, a compound believed to inhibit Alzheimer’s disease in multiple ways. Not only does it block the formation of beta amyloid plaques, it also fights inflammation and lowers artery-clogging cholesterol which can reduce blood flow to your brain.

Concord grape juice:
Researchers are increasingly finding that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. The same heart-healthy polyphenols in red wine and Concord grape juice that improve your cardiovascular function can give your brain a boost. Similar to the polyphenols found in blackberries, they also improve the communication between brain cells.

These foods are not just good for the brain but help sustain a healthy heart as well as other healthy body functions. While there’s no guarantee that they will help you remember where you left your phone or glasses tomorrow, they will over time promote good lifelong eating habits.

Simone De Oliveira is a registered dietitian and expert on geriatric nutrition with 20 years of experience working for United HomeCare, the largest provider of home healthcare in Miami.

© 2024 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

The key to keeping your mental edge as you age may be only as far away as your refrigerator. A leading dietitian explains that natural compounds in many foods that are good for your body are also good for your mind. Here's a primer.
superfood, mental, health, aging, alzheimer
Thursday, 14 April 2016 11:36 AM
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