good food choices = good health.
bad food choices = bad health.
This is especially true of brain health, as our brains need high quality food to function at their peak.
A healthy diet can also help prevent other health issues that are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Here’s how to feed your brain for optimum performance:
- Eat a “Mediterranean” diet, which replaces butter and other unhealthy fats with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil.
- Your brain needs plenty of vitamins B6 and B12. Eating beans, bananas, carrots, spinach, milk and fish will supply B6. Eating liver, lean beef, fish and shellfish provide B12.
- Consume antioxidant rich foods to protect your brain from unhealthy free radicals. Top choices include blueberries, walnuts and pecans, cocoa, kidney and pinto beans, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples and artichoke hearts. Look for a high ORAC value – you’ll find a table of high scoring foods with a web search for “orac scores.”
- Avoid or minimize red meat, saturated fats and high fat foods like deep-fried foods, excess sugar and excess salt (try a salt substitute, such as Nu-salt or Mrs. Dash.)
- Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health. Cold water fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna contain an abundance of this brain booster. Lesser amounts are also found in green leafy vegetables, walnuts and flaxseed oil.
- Include whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and eggs in your daily diet.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Eat colorful foods, which tend to be rich in vitamin E and beta-carotene. This includes blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, leafy greens like spinach and kale and sweet potatoes.
- Eat raw fruits and vegetables rather than cooked, as cooking can destroy nutrients.
- Avoid processed food whenever possible, as most processed foods contain excess salt, sugar and chemical ingredients that are best avoided. Substitute simple home-made dishes that use healthy ingredients.