Eat Your Way to a Healthier Brain
It’s true – you are what you eat! As we age, our brain is more susceptible to oxidation, which is caused by environmental & lifestyle stressors. To counter this brain cell damage, it is important to fuel your brain with foods rich in antioxidants. Luckily, eating foods that boost brain health is easy and delicious.
Model the Mediterranean Menu
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts helps maintain brain health and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Following are tips from the Mediterranean lifestyle you can incorporate into your own way of life:
- Green Veggies for the Win – Go green when choosing veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and leafy greens, and your brain will receive a healthy boost of nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Make it a point to eat something green every day.
- A Berry Healthy Brain – Eat your berries every day for a big dose of antioxidants. Choose from blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and more.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids are Your Friends – Your body cannot make Omega-3 Fatty Acids, so be sure to eat them instead! Fish – like salmon, tuna and cod – and nuts – like walnuts, soybeans and flax – are rich in these essential nutrients that are fuel for your brain! Aim to eat 5oz of fish at least twice a week and a daily handful of nuts.
- Drink to Brain Health – Black coffee is one of the most powerful brain health drinks you can sip! Enjoy up to 3 cups a day. Coffee not your thing? Try drinking green or black tea steeped extra long to maximize the benefits. A daily glass of red wine or red grape juice is packed with resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce cell damage and protect your brain from plaque build-up.
- Spice Things Up – There are plenty of spices and seasonings that are supportive of brain health. Try cinnamon, ginger and turmeric to add a punch of flavor to your dishes and reduce inflammation in the brain.
- Whole Grain for a Healthy Brain – Eating whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, and barley, can also help reduce inflammation in the brain and are packed with B vitamins.
- Get a Cocoa Kick – Unsweetened cocoa powder packs a strong dose of the antioxidants called flavonoids. Add a few tablespoons to your baking recipes or your next smoothie to improve blood flow in the brain and reduce inflammation.
- Enjoy Red Meat & Eggs in Moderation – Limiting red meat and dairy that is high in saturated fat is recommended to reduce your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. While whole eggs are beneficial due to protein and vitamins, they are high in cholesterol. Try mixing whole eggs with egg whites the next time you make an omelet.
Cooking for Cognitive Health
Mediterraneans make a habit out of cooking meals at home with fresh ingredients, a process that stimulates the brain. They also enjoy dining with family and friends. If you’ve read previous articles I’ve written on cognitive health, you’ll remember that social interaction is great way to keep your brain healthy!
Small Changes Lead to Impactful Results
Incorporating Mediterranean cuisine into your lifestyle doesn’t have to be an instant overhaul. Try utilizing one of these tips each week, and the benefits will really add up over the next few months. You can add some interest to your meal rotation by trying one new brain-friendly recipe each week. And the next time you’re at the grocery store, bring a list of brain healthy foods with you, so you will be inspired to make smarter choices.
You’ll be eating you way to a healthier brain before you know it!
To read my past cognitive health articles, click HERE.
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