Do you ever go into the kitchen and forget why you went in there? Or how often do you forget the name of someone you have known for years?
If you are like most, you read about the importance of brain health for people no matter their age but as you get older, getting the proper nutrients for your brains is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health.
Here is a list of brain-boosting foods that should be included in nutritional plans because of what they can do to help boost brain power or to put more simply – they are foods to help remember things.
Fish is probably the top food for brain health, specifically varieties rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Fish is full of antioxidants and nutrients that stave off those pesky free radicals as well as helps slow mental degeneration, stabilize moods, supports a healthy nervous system and controls blood sugar. The types of fish that seem to be the best for brain health are salmon (wild not farmed), sardines, mackerel and trout.
Do you remember the little girl in the movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, who ate all the blueberry candy and turned blue? Well, her short term memory should have been in good shape thanks to that perfect little blue, amazing fruit. Blueberries are loaded with vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K and fiber which have been shown to minimize brain damage from stroke, reduce the risk of inflammation, help lower cholesterol and control blood pressure which can all lead to stroke.
You hear a lot about whole grains but still may not be quite sure what they are. Whole grains are the grain seeds in their entirety whether ground, cracked, milled, split or eaten whole. When consumed as whole grain, they are incredibly healthy as they are a carbohydrate that provides energy in the form of glucose in your blood. That goes to the brain keeping it fit and alert.
Not only do nuts contain Omega 3s, they are also loaded with Vitamin E and zinc which correlate to increased longevity and cognitive decline. But, not all nuts are created equal so stick with the ones that the most nutritious – walnuts, almonds, cashews, and even peanuts are some of the best (without the salt, of course).
Also called pepitas, pumpkin seeds just might be the most nutritious seed you can eat. In fact, they are often referred to as “brain food.” Pumpkin seeds are full of Omega 3s and 6s, as well as zinc, which are all vital to proper brain function. They are said to enhance memory function and improve mental health. You can eat them on their own, toss them in a salad, or mix them into nut mixes. While they are best eaten raw, we suggest you get the unsalted version and add some spices and seasonings on your own.
Tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes, are high in lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that protects against free radicals (uncharged atoms in the body that have unpaired electrons and are highly reactive to outside elements such as the environment, heat, light, and other negative influences) and fights many chronic health conditions from different cancers to macular degeneration to heart disease. In terms of brain health, lycopene has been shown to protect the brain from the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sprinkle turmeric on everything! OK – not everything – but on a lot of the foods you eat. It is the perfect seasoning to mix with garlic salt, oil and vinegar for a fantastic and healthy salad dressing not to mention a tasty spice to add to chicken before grilling or baking. The thing that makes turmeric so beneficial is its main component, curcumin, which has been proven to create new brain cells, reduce inflammation (the root of dementia) and boost memory.
Yes – chocolate – but not the milk chocolate in a Hershey’s Kiss or that covers the peanut butter in a Reese’s Cup. Dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent pure cacao (pronounced co-co) is the best because it is full of antioxidants (flavanols) that stimulate the brain, boost cognitive abilities, and improve blood pressure.
Take Care of Your Body and Your Brain
Even if you have the healthiest of diets and eat all of these foods on a regular basis, you may still need supplements to ensure you get right amount of vitamins and nutrients necessary to help maintain good brain health. The best vitamins and nutrients are Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Omega 3s, Zinc and several others.
The key take-away is to take care of your body; eat as little processed food as possible; get enough sleep and exercise. All of these can significantly improve and maybe even prevent the progression of chronic conditions affecting the brain.
Aston Gardens At Sun City Center is a premier senior living community in Sun City Center, Florida. Our state-of-the-art independent living community provides residents with gourmet dining, social events, senior fitness classes, and more. Learn more about our senior living options by contacting us online or giving us a call at 813.642.0860 today!