Science has shown us following the Mediterranean diet can lower your dementia risk. More recent research has found that older adults following the MIND diet — a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets — are 7.5 cognitive years younger on average. The foods involved in this diet might be able to keep your brain healthy and fend off dementia. Here are nine of them.
As long as your grains are whole, you’re doing your brain a major favor. According to The Whole Grains Council, grain-based foods like oatmeal can boost your cognitive health and extend your life. Mediterranean diets, including the MIND diet, have been linked to better brain function — and these diets heavily emphasize the regular consumption of whole grains.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries, contain antioxidants that could keep your brain healthy and reduce your dementia risk. Science Daily highlights one study suggesting older adults who drank concentrated blueberry juice exhibited improved brain function. To avoid excess sugar, incorporate fresh berries into your meals, snacks, and smoothies as much as possible.
According to SF Gate, regularly consuming walnuts, almonds, macadamias, and pistachios can significantly improve your cognitive function and give you a “younger” brain. Some nuts might be able to reverse age-related cognitive decline, improve your memory, and prevent damaging brain inflammation. The protein and healthy fats in nuts make them the perfect healthy snack.
High consumption of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like celery, has the potential to keep cognitive function intact for longer. A research study published online suggests that eating these foods could promote increased brain health and improved cognition. Eating more non-starchy vegetables, like celery, can contribute to a healthier diet and lifestyle as well.
Are you eating enough vegetables? You might benefit from adding more leaves to your plate. According to Rush University, green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are extremely nutritious. You can’t go wrong with greens. These low-calorie, high-nutrition veggies keep every part of your body — even your brain — in top shape.
Cleveland Clinic says adding a healthy dose of beans to your diet more frequently can keep your brain functioning the way it’s supposed to. Beans contain high amounts of B vitamins, which are essential for maintaining a healthy brain. Your body can’t store these vitamins, so it’s important to eat B vitamin-rich foods, like beans, daily.
According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults can significantly benefit from eating more sources of lean protein, such as chicken and fish. This type of meat can cut out potentially harmful doses of red meat. In terms of brain health, getting enough protein ensures that you’re providing your body and brain with enough nutrition to prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, fish can improve your memory and boost your overall brain health. There’s one type of omega-3 fatty acid in particular, present in fish, that’s essential for a fully functional brain. Fish like tuna and salmon also promote heart health, an equally important factor in preventing cognitive decline and dementia.
Wine drinkers rejoice! The MIND diet recommends one glass of wine each day. As explained by Dr. Martha Clare Morris:
When my team and I developed the MIND Diet we included wine in the healthy foods list. Our recommendation for older men and women is to drink one 5 oz glass of wine a day. This is because research shows that a very moderate amount of alcohol is associated with reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline. We don’t know exactly why that is, but alcohol increases HDL cholesterol–the good cholesterol that helps to clear the bad cholesterol from the arteries. Cholesterol is involved in Alzheimer’s disease in ways that we don’t understand at this point in the research.
Eating kale instead of iceberg lettuce could help slow brain aging due to oxidative stress, says Healthline. Antioxidants, present in many of the vitamins and minerals in kale and similar dark green leafy vegetables, help combat free radicals, the compounds responsible for this kind of damage.
According to Live Science, adding onions to your meals could protect your body against the inflammation that might damage your brain as you age. In addition, onions promote heart health, help regulate blood sugar, and provide your body with essential antioxidants.
All that broccoli your parents forced you to eat as a kid may have been worth the agony. Organic Facts says the omega-3 fatty acids found in this vegetable have been shown to promote brain health, especially in older adults. Pair it with your chicken or fish for even more brain benefits.
According to Healthline, incorporating turmeric into your diet could help prevent the type of inflammation believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. You can use turmeric as a spice in a variety of dishes, including tea, smoothies, curry, and more.
The main ingredient in hummus, chickpeas — also called garbanzo beans — are your brain’s best friend. Medical News Today says they contain a mineral called choline, which has been shown to protect your body against inflammation and promote better learning and memory.
15. Dark chocolate
Think chocolate is off limits? Don’t underestimate the power of cocoa. According to Harvard Health, small amounts of dark chocolate provide your body with flavanols. These plant-based substances have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help to improve and preserve your brain health as you get older.